1/27/14 SATURDAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

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Jaleal Curtis, 3, enjoys a doughnut Saturday while reading with Grove Park Elementary first-grade teacher Lynne Rich during the Saturday School in the Neighborhood event at the police substation within the Tucker Street Apartments in Burlington.

Photos by Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News

Jaleal Curtis, 3, enjoys a doughnut Saturday while reading with Grove Park Elementary first-grade teacher Lynne Rich during the Saturday School in the Neighborhood event at the police substation within the Tucker Street Apartments in Burlington.

SATURDAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Grove Park Elementary teachers ‘engage families where they are’
By Molly McGowan The Times-News 1/27/14  
Reprinted with permission.


   Children at Tucker Street Apartments loaded up on doughnuts, juice and free books Saturday, at the first “Saturday School in the Neighborhood” held by Grove Park Elementary School.

   What started as professional development training sessions for teachers turned into a family engagement program that puts Grove Park teachers into the communities of their students.

   Cherrel Dyce, assistant professor of education at Elon University, has been working with Grove Park teachers as part of their annual professional development training, and this year the focus has been on family engagement.

Demarion Summers, 6, picks out crayon colors Saturday with Grove Park Elementary second-grade teacher Chantel Kielty.  
Demarion Summers, 6, picks out crayon colors Saturday with Grove Park Elementary second-grade teacher Chantel Kielty.  

   Dyce said 13 teachers initially signed up for the focus group that met once a month to do research and activities, answering the question, “How do you engage families where they are?” Then, Dyce said, the teachers decided they wanted to do more and formed the Family Engagement Council.

   “We wanted to make it bigger,” said Debbie Weigand, a fifth-grade teacher at Grove Park.

   “We have so many students that are in this community,” she said of Tucker Street Apartments. “We wanted them to see us out of the classroom.”

   So for two hours, the group of teachers met local students, read and handed out books donated by Fifth Street Books in Mebane, talked to parents and generally just got to know the school’s families better.

   That’s not really out of the ordinary for Grove Park, according to one parent.

   “My son really loves all the teachers,” said Antoinette Millner, whose oldest son attends the elementary school. “They take time to get to know the parents.”

   Millner said Saturday School in the Neighborhood will only help grow those parent-teacher bonds, which the school’s Family Engagement Council will continue in other areas.

   The group plans to hold three or four more such events, focusing on literacy and family engagement.