Family night promotes parent involvement at Dawson-Bryant Schools

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, January 4, 2011

COAL GROVE — Today may have been the first of classes for students in the Dawson-Bryant School District, but Monday night, their parents came and sat in the classrooms to learn about what their children can expect this year.

Monday was the first family night for the district, and superintendent Dennis DeCamp said it was a way to get the parents into the school to become active participants in their child’s education. He said about 75 to 80 people came out for the event.

“It’s a learning time for parents,” DeCamp said. “Sometimes we bring them in for parent conferences but we just tell them about their child. This is going to be more for trying to just give them the opportunity to sit down and talk to the administrators, teachers, talking about achievement tests, scholarships, OGT, how to apply for financial aid, different skills that they’ll be looking for in the workforce down the road as opposed to what they were looking for 10 years ago.”

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The district invited parents for a free spaghetti dinner before breakout sessions began with talks about the Ohio Achievement Assessment tests for elementary and middle school students, high school Ohio Graduation Tests, bullying, scholarships, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and 21st century learning skills. Motivational speaker Bruce Boguski also spoke to the parents and door prizes were awarded.

“We just want to inform the community and give them ways to where they can find information that would help benefit their kids,” said Rick Barrett, principal at the district’s middle school.

Elementary principal Angie Dillow gave a presentation on the elementary OAA tests. She said the family night was a good idea to get the parents involved and ask questions about the tests.

“It makes it not as scary,” she said.

Rhonda Dillon, mother of a Dawson-Bryant senior and district school bus driver, said she wanted to sit in on the sessions about scholarships and FAFSA. She said when she went through the financial aid process with her older son, it was confusing, but she hoped that the sessions would be helpful.

“These are excellent teachers and counselors who are going to help you through it step by step,” Dillon said.

High school principal, Steve Easterling, gave talks on the OGT and test taking strategies. He agreed that first family night for the district was necessary.

“If we can get communication going between home and school, it helps everyone,” he said.

DeCamp also spoke to parents about 21st century learning skills.

“We used to look to the textbook, but now there are so many other avenues of information out there, the textbook is just one resource,” he said. “We’re trying to get kids to be more collaborative in their learning process, still emphasizing the core subject areas that we have today but trying to teach more problem solving skills, try to have our kids think more on a broader view of the world as opposed to Lawrence County, Southern Ohio or just Ohio.”

The family night was something that DeCamp and other faculty members said they would want to do again in the future. The district had planned for the event last year, but inclement weather prevented it from coming together.

“I just want to thank our board for allowing us to do this,” DeCamp said. “And the teachers and staff who stuck around to help volunteer. It takes a lot of people to put things like this together.”

“It was a good evening for us. We got a lot of positive comments from the parents.”