By Alexander Lingle
Allentown School District (ASD) recently kicked off a new program for parents over a year in the making: Parent University. According to a press release sent by ASD Director of Communication Kimberly Golden-Benner, the program’s goal is to inform parents on topics of education and health.
“About 40 Allentown School District parents and guardians attended the ASD Parent University Kick-Off,” another press release from Golden-Benner reports.
The first session was held Jan. 9 at Building 21 Allentown High School, featuring several workshops aimed to help parents guide their children through the school year. Six workshops were available to parents at the kickoff: Health Overview; Keystones and PSSA’s, Code of Conduct Review; How to Connect to ASD Services; English Language Learners (ELL/ESOL); Understanding the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) & Gifted Individualized Educational Plan (GIEP); and the ASD Community Portal/Registration.
The district received positive feedback from parents about their first experience with the program.
“I went to Parent University thinking that I didn’t have anything to learn and came away wishing that I had been able to stay longer because of what I was learning about our school district,” Maria Tjelveit stated in a quote from the press release. Tjelveit is an ASD parent and the William Allen PTSA President.
“Honestly, I went out of a sense of obligation as PTSA President, but I ended up staying for two or the three sessions, and was very impressed with the presentations,” Tjelveit finished.
There has been some misinformation spread about Parent University. In the last few months, there have been more than a few cases of violence by ASD Students that have received public visibility. One incident went viral when students attacked police officers by Allen High School.
Some sources have reported that Parent University is a response to the teachers’ and parents’ call for action. However, Kimberly Golden-Benner reveals that this isn’t true.
“ASD offers parent/guardian/caregiver workshops every year, but this year we encapsulated it under the Parent University title and included more workshops,” Golden-Benner explained. “This was not created in response to the ‘violence.’”
It seems the timing of these workshops implementation was coincidental. Parent University has been in the planning process since last year.
“[The Office of Community and Student Services], along with the Office of Grants and Development, began planning the Parent University concept in the beginning of 2015,” Jacqulyn Scott, director of community and student services said. “We wanted to develop a series of workshops that offered our parents, guardians and caretakers an opportunity to gain more information about their child’s educational process so they can partner with us to provide the support their child needs to be successful in school and life.”
Scott adds ASD had a fair number of attendees at the first set of workshops and they are excited to have even attended the remaining workshops.