Ohio Family Story: Same School, Different Experience
Bess is the mom of eight-year-old Hunter. An active and energetic child, Hunter attends a private school in Coshocton, Ohio that focuses on small class sizes, 14-16 children per class, parent involvement, and student success.
For Bess and Hunter, the first few years of schooling were bumpy and fraught with confusion. For example, when Hunter was in preschool and only four years old, Bess noticed he was being sent to the principal’s office quite often. However, she was never made aware until much later; nor did she feel administration professionals provided her with any information or tactics they had in place to address behavioral concerns before it escalated to going to the principal’s office and a call home. Also, the school did not provide Bess with any behavior improvement best practices to implement at home.
“It just did not make sense. I would hear he was sent to the principal’s office, but not how or why teachers could not handle the situation without administration involvement,” said Bess.
However, despite the administration seemingly getting much wrong, it wasn’t all bad. For instance, in preschool and kindergarten, teachers spoke with their students about the changes they would experience transitioning to full day classes. They also provided parents with ideas to implement at home and resources to help guide their child through school transitions.
Hunter has now entered the second grade, and mom Bess loves the new purposeful family engagement processes in place at his school. With the hiring of new school leaders and teachers, school personnel and specialists have been more involved, engaged, and purposeful about communication. “When Hunter was in preschool and kindergarten, the school was run by different employees, and I was often left in the dark regarding important school information. There was a complete lack of communication, and I would learn about significant items and materials at the last minute. This left both Hunter and I extremely frustrated at times,” Bess stated. Now, teachers send home daily homework notebooks that need to be signed by a caregiver, behavior reports, and other pertinent school information from the day. At the beginning of the school year, parents were also supplied with the teacher’s mobile phone number to keep the lines of communication open. To make children feel more comfortable and reduce the shock of grade transitioning, the school also takes families on an orientation tour before the school year begins.
“It’s almost night and day, administration wise,” Bess stated. “Now, the principal sends letters home with updates, parents are invited to volunteer at the school, as well as go to their child’s class to observe.” Parents and caregivers are now more involved within Hunter’s school. For instance, Bess has acted as a grant writer for the school so they could obtain a new playground set. Many others, including her own family members, volunteer at the large school fundraiser festival held every year.
“It is great to see the students, teachers, administrators, and families working together for the good of the school,” said Bess.