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Posted: July 5, 2009 12:30 a.m.

'Be There' program encourages parents to become involved

Parental involvement has always been stressed by the Newton County School System, but board members are looking at a way to encourage parents even more by considering the adoption of a program called "Be There."

According to NCSS Public Relations Director Sherri Viniard, "parental involvement varies from school to school, but overall, we do not get adequate attendance at events and our schools can always use more volunteers."

Research indicates that many parents feel unqualified or too busy to participate in the myriad of activities at their child’s school. Some feel this way because they were not successful students and others feel that their schedule is too full.

The "Be There" program works to get parents involved on a level they feel most comfortable with, changing the whole concept of parental involvement by allowing and encouraging parents to get involved in their own environment.

The program is a national multimedia campaign that would work to inspire parents to want to become involved in their child’s education. Not just in school, but in everyday life. The campaign would use the media to "deliver simple messages, touching photographs and personal stories to inspire parents to ‘Be There’ for their children during their everyday moments in life."

That means putting down the cell phones and turning off the iPods and beginning to connect with one another. According to Viniard, the program would be an easy and inexpensive way to show that the NCSS understands that people cannot always participate in school activities with their children, but they urge parents to realize that a child’s home life does have an impact on the child’s school work.

"You can help them succeed by just being there," she said.

The goals of the campaign are to improve student achievement through increased family involvement, align parent activities with state/district goals, support educators by making it easier for parents to become effective partners and show families that simple connections with children make a huge difference. The NCSS strategic plan would be to increase parental involvement.

The message of the campaign is simple enough. Make eye contact, have one-on-one time between an adult and a child, and realize that everyday things — cooking dinner, changing a tire, grocery shopping — are a chance to be there and to make a difference in the life of a child.

"The campaign is meant to inspire rather than to instruct," said Viniard.

The campaign would focus on "teachable moments" and the materials that the Be There campaign would provide would be localized and would focus on those everyday moments between child and adult.

"The goal is to inspire parents to make ordinary moments extraordinary," Viniard said.

Officials would be provided with a district kit that would include such things as a poster design, public service announcements and template articles. The system would also be permitted to use the Be There logo on school system materials. An optional component of this campaign would be fliers and advertisements.

The system could use as much or as little of the material available as they wanted. For high dollar items like fliers to hang on school walls, the system would pay only the printing cost

"Be There will provide the materials for the district. They design them and localize them," Viniard said. "The only cost would be if we got something printed and even then we can get sponsors."

More information about the campaign, including materials, is available at www.bethere.org.

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