As part of its initiative to educate parents, grandparents and caretakers on what it takes for students to achieve academic success, the Liberty County School System on Saturday held its first annual Title 1 Partners in Education Conference. More than 75 people came by the board of education office to participate in various workshops designed to inspire parents to take an active role in their children’s education.
As attendees entered the BoE, they checked out tables and booths manned by representatives from every Title 1 school in the county, Social Work Services, Response to Intervention Trainers and the Military Child Education Coalition. Free child care also was offered to attendees in an effort to boost participation.
Executive Director for Teaching and Learning Anthony Calloway and Superintendent Dr. Valya S. Lee opened the gathering with a few brief remarks.
Calloway greeted attendees and told them that, as partners in children’s education, they can take students beyond their wildest dreams.
“We would like to see more students ready for college, ready for career readiness, and to be the best that they can be … and all this is possible by working together,” he said.
Lee assured the parents that the planned event would be a worthwhile and educational experience, adding that their attendance is proof of their commitment to their children’s education.
“Liberty County is one the highest-ranking school systems in the state of Georgia,” she said. “Your children are receiving an education that is second-to-none.”
Former NFL linebacker and Georgia native Curtis Dustin “Dusty” Zeigler gave the keynote speech, which rounded out the opening remarks. He thanked the coordinators for putting the event together.
Zeigler, a product of the Effingham County School System, said he wasn’t necessarily the brightest student, but he worked hard and met challenges, especially in college, and graduated in only 3½ half years.
He urged parents to help their children become mentally flexible, since college is a competitive environment and life won’t always go their way.
“Kids need to be resilient. They will have challenges and they will, at times, fail. They won’t always succeed, but they need to bounce back and learn from their mistakes and not let those failures affect their long-term goals,” he said.
Attendees were released to their first breakout session of the morning. Eight different sessions were offered during each of the three time blocks. Breakout-session topics included avoiding homework hassles, why is math so different?, test-taking tips, a parent’s guide to Title I, strategies to help students succeed, technology resources, building a personalized reading list and helping others listen.
Terrence White, a parent with children at Button Gwinett Elementary and Bradwell Institute, attended the event because he wanted to learn how to be more active and involved in his children’s education.
“I don’t want to be thinking about it 10 or 15 years down the line and asking what I should’ve done instead of doing it now,” he said.
He added that he picked up some knowledge about how kids are learning today and how the environment is different from when he was in school. He said he liked how the session facilitators broke everything down to show parents how kids are being taught in the classroom.
Eighteen members of the Liberty County JROTC program, in dress uniform, were onsite to assist as needed. They held open doors as attendees entered the building, posted the colors and were stationed throughout the building to direct attendees and answer questions. Calloway said that having the JROTC program involved helped to showcase the school system’s talent.
“We wanted everyone to see the wonderful job they do and how kids can contribute, be involved and serve the community,” Calloway said.
He added that it took a team to plan and execute the conference, noting that administrators, parent coordinators and facilitators from all of the schools — as well as many employees from the district and BoE — were involved in planning the event.
After sessions, a light lunch was provided to attendees, and a few door prizes were given away. The lunch and prizes were made possible by donations from area businesses, such as Baldinos, Derst Bread, Food Lion, Golden Corral, Hinesville Ford, Liberty College and Career Academy, Little Caesars, McDonalds on Highway 84, Panera Bread, Pizza Hut, Shane’s Rib Shack, Southern Sweets, VIP Office Furniture and Supply, Walmart and Mrs. Deborah Edwards.
At the end of the day, Calloway told the crowd to look forward to another conference in August to help kick off the new school year. He encouraged attendees to return for future conferences and to spread the word to other parents.