iEducate Delaware: “Pulaski on the Prowl” Empowers
On May 1st, we began accepting nominations for iEducate Delaware, an initiative to uncover and share the amazing stories of education leaders across the state. As the nomination window continues through the end of June, we will be posting updates about last year’s honorees and their projects. Rodel invested $2,000 in each of these honorees’ projects to support their work.
Tracey Roberts, one of our inaugural iEducate Delaware Honorees and principal of Pulaski Elementary School in the Christina School District, shares:
Parent engagement is a critical component of student success. A student whose parents and teachers work together to help him or her learn has a strong support network to depend on. Our students’ parents were involved, but not at the level we wanted.
So two years ago, I introduced the idea of “Pulaski on the Prowl” to my staff. Teachers “hit the streets” and visited the neighborhoods and homes of their incoming students to welcome them to a new school year, donating book bags and school supplies to those who needed them. If parents or students were not home, they left lanyards on the doors with messages that told them that their new teacher had visited.
During these initial visits, teachers had the opportunity to see where and how their pupils lived so that they could use that information to build relationships and to inform their lessons. Parents were encouraged to be more involved in our school, and we shared ways they could support the school. In addition, administrators and support staff visited local businesses to forge partnerships for the upcoming year.
The staff was hesitant at first, but the Prowl has now become a central and anticipated part of our new school year activities. Since we’ve started this project, we have gained 14 new business partners and have significantly increased the number of parents who attend our school-sponsored events. Our school now has its own chapter of the PTA, and teachers and parents share positions, allowing parents to learn their roles and feel more comfortable and supported. Visits to our Parent Resource Room have increased by 30%.
Perhaps most importantly, teachers now plan their own activities or events to engage parents. Teachers have invited parents/guardians to student-led conferences, an “Author’s Tea”, Mother’s Day luncheons, holiday gatherings, etc. The connection that has been formed between our staff and the community has had enormous benefits; we’ve even found that if we are specific in our requests for support and engagement, the parents will deliver. For Teacher Appreciation Week, we called parents and personally invited them to come to school to hold classes or to monitor students during recess/lunch so that all the staff members could enjoy lunch together on the last day of the week. We had a great showing, and they were excited to help. After an hour in the teachers’ shoes, the parents appreciated the teachers even more!
Participating in iEducate Delaware has been wonderful! The recognition of being an iEducate award recipient has been humbling and a true honor. In part because of the exposure the school received, educators around Delaware have contacted me to ask about “Pulaski on the Prowl” and have shared how they plan to implement it at their sites. In June, Pulaski staff will join me in presenting at the Policy and Practice Conference in Dover to discuss how we’ve impacted parental engagement and empowered both parents and staff.
iEducate Delaware is a fantastic way to highlight the great things that are happening for students in the state. Educators are often overlooked and unappreciated. This “movement” shines a light on the spectacular accomplishments of dedicated individuals who commit to enriching the lives of Delaware learners. I can’t wait to see the future nominees!