A training session to integrate schools, parents and community with character building in students drew about 50 people Thursday to Midway Middle School.
"It takes a village to raise a child," MMS Principal Debra Frazier said during the school’s "I Care" program training session. "Remember, I Care is a partnership between three stakeholders," Frazier added, referring to the school, the family and the community.
"The program is a systematic, integrated and measurable positive parent engagement curriculum which incorporates the school, parents, and community in building character while increasing parent and community involvement," MMS parent involvement coordinator Teresa Bacon explained. "The program was initiated districtwide two years ago in the elementary and middle schools in Liberty County. It is a great program which does not take much time and documents what parents are already doing at home with their children."
Students’ academic achievement is improved when parents and community members are involved in the schools, according to icarenow.com.
The program involves a list of character-building family activities teachers send home with students each month. Parents and children fill out these forms, and then the students return completed forms to their teachers.
Prior to sending home the activities, parents receive a 15-minute I Care expectations training.
The program gives parents a list of five suggested activities to complete. Families can add five more activities they engage in with their child to the form. Examples of extra activities range from families visiting grandparents or going to a sports event together, Bacon said.
The biggest challenge in middle school is making sure students take the forms home and return them, Bacon said. Parents can access I Care forms off the Midway Middle School/LCSS website at schools.liberty.k12.ga.us/mms/.
Bacon told parents they can encourage community members to participate in the program. She suggested parents approach people they are comfortable with, such as those at businesses they patronize, churches they attend or civic organizations to which they belong.
Businesses and other community members can post I Care character-trait posters in the windows of their shops and discuss the trait with students who come in, thereby reinforcing what children are learning in school and at home, Bacon said.
Elisa and Ricky Mehaffey attended the training session at MMS. They have two daughters in the Liberty County School System. The couple believes children do better in school when parents are involved.
"I feel it (I Care program) is important," Elisa Mehaffey said. "It helps your child, gets them motivated for school."
Ricky Mehaffey added he and his wife give their girls "small rewards" when they earn good grades.
In addition to increasing parental involvement, the I Care curriculum is designed to help build a healthy relationship between parents and teachers, Bacon said.