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Parents strive for students' success
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Minus the cap and gown, parents walked across the stage of the Joseph Martin Elementary school gym during a graduation ceremony Nov. 8 to receive certificates of completion for participating in PASSports for Parents.
PASSports, Parents Assuring Student Success, is a program of the Parent Involvement Network and came from a seminar JME Principal Sue Tolley and other staff went to in Jesup.  
“Learning is important to all of us,” Tolley said. “When parents are involved students learn more.”
Parents were provided with PASSports workbooks and session topics included Homework skills, Parent attitude  and reading skills and Study skills. Facilitators included Mesh Morris, curriculum coordinator and Robin Snider, school counselor.
But parents were not subjected to only listening to a speaker. Refreshments were available. There were also door prize drawings and games integrated in the one-hour session to encourage interaction among the parents.
“Parents help each other out too,” Cathy Atkins, JME’s Parent Involvement Facilitator said. “(Parents) give each other ideas and feedback.”
Parents, taking home four or five handouts relating to the evening’s subject matter, “get something every time,” Atkins said.
Atkins explained how childcare was made available in the gym while parents received instruction in the cafeteria.
Tolley said the PASSports sessions have been “well received with parents.”  
“It’s a good way for parents to continue with the teaching. It gives tools to help student at home,” Tolley said.
The PASSports for Parents sessions were also a good way to introduce parents to the advanced technologies their students are exposed to in the classroom.
More and more teachers are using CPS, the Classroom Performance System, to administer tests.
With this system, teachers are still able to make up the tests but it is requires no paper and pencil.
The CPS resembles a TV remote control with letters where the numbers would be.
Questions are shown on   the SMART board and students answer by pressing a button corresponding to the chosen answer.
With other conventional methods of testing, “find a lot of time eyes tent to roam, eyes can’t roam” Lauren Meyers, a second grade teacher, said.
“(The CPS) may take stress out of test taking,” Meyers said.
Meyers also explained how the CPS allows teachers to put grades directly in the gradebook, providing “immediate feedback.”
The school also has a cache of 49 iMac stand-alone computers that they allow parents to check out and keep until the end of the school year.
The computers do not have Internet capabilities but are installed with Orchard software to help students with reading and writing skills.
“All they have to do is plug it in and turn it on,” Atkins said.
Atkins customizes the software to the student’s grade level before checkout.
Traci Lopez, parent of a first grade student, said she “loves the way they (JME) inform you of everything.”
“(The PASSport sessions) help me to know what to prepare my child for,” Lopez said.
Devara Richardson, parent of second and third grade students, said the sessions were “very informative.”
Principal Tolley addressed the parents after the ceremony.
“We appreciate you being here and it’s important to your children that you’re here, not just for academics but for that pride, ‘My parents come to school,’” Tolley said.
Parents and students went back to the cafeteria after the ceremony to celebrate with cake and ice cream.
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