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Thoughts on Parent Engagement

Myrdin Thompson

Because of my experiences working with Mom Congress and all the information I’ve gleaned from our amazing delegates, I’ve been asked to speak about parent engagement at my PTA’s first general meeting later this month.  

Tonight I was mulling over what I might say, answering email, and browsing the web when I came across a great story about Kentucky’s adoption of the Common Core Standards.  The story talks about all the changes that are coming for students in Kentucky and how 2010 Mom Congress delegate Myrdin Thompson is training other parents on the new standards.

Myrdin’s kind of a rock star.  She’s lead every organization known to man.  She considers herself a fulltime volunteer.  She blogs about education.  She talks about education.  She reads about education and posts links to articles so frequently that she’s been temporarily banned from posting links on Facebook because they think she’s a bot.  If there were a parent engagement biker gang, Myrdin would ride the lead hog.

I love her and I’d love to ride in her sidecar someday, but I don’t pretend that I’ll ever have the tireless drive to do what she does every day.  Somebody in this world needs to be Myrdin Thompson, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be you.  Maybe Myrdin Thompson can be Myrdin Thompson and you can go along being Florence Ferdinand.  This is what I want to tell the parents at our first general PTA meeting.

When we hear parent engagement, many of us are intimidated.  We know people who seem to live at the school, working around the clock to support education and we think, “I can’t do that.  Will I really be able to make a difference?”  The answer is – YES!  I know Myrdin would be the first to agree with me.

You don’t have to be president of the PTA to help your school.  You can volunteer in the classroom or help in the office.  Pitch in some extra school supplies to the classroom or a family in need or offer to teach a new skill to the class.  Stay in communication with your child’s teacher.  Take the time to really focus on helping your child with her homework or organizational routines.  Cheer at the walk-a-thon.  Just be involved.

More than anything else, I’ve learned from my experiences with Mom Congress that education is shaped and supported with the help of a million tiny little efforts and that we all need to become engaged in supporting quality education for our own children and all the children in this country. 

Don’t ask what you should be doing.  Ask what you can do and then go out and do it.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, DaringYoungMom.com and occasionally the gym.

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