Ohio Family Story: New School, New Chance for Family Engagement

Photo of Sophia (Left) and mother Sara (right).
Sophia (L) & mom Sara (R)

Sara Owens, Assistant to the Director of the Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE) at The Ohio State University, has spent years finding the perfect fit for her daughter Sophia’s education; it took time to find the right school and teachers who used alternatives with their students to help them succeed. Sophia, now 12, has attended several Ohio schools, “Sophia has a large, great personality, but it can sometimes be difficult to keep her on track. During conferences with schools, teachers would often say she was a bad student, but I knew that could not be the case as her grades were good. The only place I could see her struggling was in her test scores, so teachers comments about her being a bad student didn’t make sense to me”, said Sara.

However, she noticed a difference in not only Sophia, but the way teachers engaged with her as a parent when they joined a new school district. “I was so happy with the level of communication between parents, teachers, and other school personnel. One day a teacher called me and said she noticed Sophia seemed stressed and they connected her with the school counselor. The counselor then phoned and let me know Sophia just needed some quiet time to refocus.” To help Sophia succeed in school, in addition to great communication practices, Sophia’s teachers moved her to the front of the class to eliminate distractions and allowed her short breaks to take time to progress and re-center.

With Sophia seemingly set up for success during the day, her teachers also provided Sara with suggestions on what to do at home to supplement the classroom practices. “I spoke with my daughter’s teachers and they recommended some relaxing techniques I could use, as well as some ideas for Sophia to utilize her energy. For example, yoga, playing outside, deep breathing exercises, and playing sports. Sophia loves to play volleyball, so that helps a lot.” Teachers are so dedicated to student success they have a text system set up wherein parents can message with teachers regarding important items. They also invited Sara to reach out to them in the morning to let them know what kind of day Sophia was having so far.

Sara now feels more comfortable engaging with teachers and school personnel, and Sophia has learned what practices work best for her to learn and thrive in school. 

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