2nd Annual Creative Engagement Symposium
The age-old adage is that it takes a village to raise a child.
According to leaders in DeKalb County School District’s (DCSD) Region 3, at least one extra step also exists: educating the village on being effective, supportive and future-minded.
Region 3 leaders at Redan High, Redan Middle, Redan Elementary, E. L. Miller Elementary and Shadow Rock Elementary hosted the second annual Creative Engagement Symposium on Jan. 30.
Marcia Coward, DCSD Parent Engagement Liaison, said the event was designed to engage parents with their students’ success. The overall goal, she said, was to foster a community of advocates who are invested in their children’s future.
“It’s cold out. Some of us are tired. Some of us have been up since 5 a.m. But [parents] are here. Parents are here because they care about their children,” Coward said. “The research says parents are students first and most influential teacher. There are 24 hours in a day—students are in school for about six hours per day, they sleep for about eight hours per day—so parents have them for 10 hours every day. There are 365 days per year, so that’s a whole lot of time that we, as parents, have children at home to devote time to them. We, as parents, have just as much work to do—if not more—than the staff at our schools.”
According to Rachel Zeigler, regional superintendent for Region 3, the event serves to educate parents on education. Zeigler said attendance at the event—much larger than last year—is evidence many things are improving at DCSD.
“I truly believe that part of our jobs as educators is to not only educate children, but also educating parents,” Zeigler. “Parents’ presence [at the symposium] is advocacy for their children. It’s showing they care.”
Redan Elementary principal Deborah Cowan-Steele said the Redan High School cluster developed the idea for a parent engagement night in 2017 to provide educational resources to parents.
“We want to provide opportunities to parents to learn more about how to support their children academically and to empower them from a social, personal and emotional perspective,” Cowan-Steele said. “It’s a worthwhile event. Parents give positive feedback and enjoy coming out. It provides a good night of fellowship and interaction. It gives them a forum to ask questions and have a dialogue, not just with us, but with one another.”
After enjoying a dinner prepared by Redan High’s culinary students, as well as performances from Redan High’s “Silver Image” Jazz Ensemble, the E.L. Miller Dance Team and the Shadow Rock Step Team, parents attended sessions headed by educational professionals.
Parents had the option to attend sessions taught by DCSD deputy superintendent of student support and intervention, Vasanne Tinsley; motivational speaker and psychologist Alduan Tartt; DCSD director of student support services Deborah Moore-Sanders; DCSD post-decondary transition specialist Shani Hall; Georgia Piedmont Technical College professor Natoshia Anderson; and Dunaire teacher Emily Jones.
In one classroom, parents could learn how to handle stress at home or how to make their child an expert reader. In another, parents could learn the most affordable way to attend college or how to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more enjoyable.