Dr. Douglas L. Ragland
Retired Superintendent of Schools
Actions that I took as an educator to make parents feel valued at school and in the districts I served were inclusive in nature. We always put emphasis on having parent volunteers for all classrooms in every school, initiated Parent Orientation Days, PTA Open House, participated in Statewide Parenting Day, assigned parents to task force, strategic planning, teacher of the year, National Distinguished Principal and accreditation committees in the school setting, emphasized parental involvement in joining and serving on the PTA or PTO, encouraged parents to lead fundraising activities for school activities, and fostered communication from parents at annual education summits and in general via praise, concerns, and suggestions, regarding the direction of their respective schools and the district as a whole. These were just some of the effective ways we utilized in making our parents feel valued.In order to create a shared responsibility and a collective commitment to quality education among stakeholders, there must be open communication, respect for difference of opinions, ability to listen and adjust one’s thinking to facilitate compromise in devising plans for the best interest of students, collaborative skills with all stakeholders in terms of communication and involvement, and a clear understanding that all decisions are made for the best interest of students based on data, high expectations, and ensuring that all students are successful at the highest levels individually and collectively. These were the means in how we created an environment of shared responsibility and commitment to quality education amongst stakeholders.Professional development offered for parents centered around resources via the National Parents Teachers Association in providing tips for better parenting and success of children as a result, Parent Orientations, Title I Initiatives and requirements in providing information for parents to understand student achievement, rights and privileges of parents, funding as a result of Title I and how it is derived, knowledge of personnel standards in regards to highly qualified teachers, successful tips to parenting, engaging parents in the curriculum process via committees in the school setting, and the like. These are just some of the ways in which we offered professional development to the parents in the district I served.Barriers faced when working to have all teachers, administrators, education support professionals, other school employees and other educational stakeholders work as a team that strive to have a positive impact on learning are creating open communication amongst stakeholders in a non-threatening as opposed to threatening environment, respecting as opposed to disrespecting differing opinions, identifying and working through conflict, addressing, identifying and coordinating positively cultural differences in terms of values and beliefs of all stakeholders in reaching the goal of successful student achievement, as opposed to becoming uncompromising and opposed to change, provision of moral and financial support from the district for success, as opposed to non-support and failure to provide resources and the like. This is in essence how barriers can be dealt with in achieving success and having a positive impact on learning.Prominent ways to involve parents, community and business in meeting goals is to have an open door policy where these entities are welcomed in every aspect of the district. There needs to be representation and transparency in terms of stakeholders on committees for curriculum, discipline, finance, parental and community involvement, public relations, accreditation, strategic planning, and the like in strengthening the total school program, thus enhancing the avenue of success for all children and ultimately the community. These were just some of the ways we involved parents, the community and business in meeting goals.