An annual event on Staten Island, aimed at teaching parents how to get their student on the road to success, took place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield on Saturday. NY1’s Angi Gonzalez reports on how the event helped attendees get more involved in what’s happening with their students at school and outside the classroom.
The United Federation of Teacher held their 7th annual Staten Island Parent Conference on Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield.
The goal of the event was to get parents involved in all aspects of their student’s life.
Each of the topics addressed at the conference were on the agenda, according to a UFT representative, for a reason. The union starts putting together their list in January.
“We go to P.T.A. meetings, we go to schools, intermediate, elementary, high school, and we get these topics from the parents,” said UFT Parent & Community Liaison Joan McKeever-Thomas.
Among the topics addressed were stress management for children and the role of the arts in school.
Representatives from Staten Island’s Sundog Theatre took part in session on “Arts in the Schools.”
According to Sundog Theatre’s Executive Director, Susan Fenley, the non-profit has programs in more than 30 Staten Island schools.
One of those programs is “3-D Literacy,” created by Richard Grunn.
“It takes elements of literacy and blows it up and makes it three dimensional,” said Grunn.
The program is just one of the ways employees at Sundog Theatre say they have found success using the arts to make learning more fun and interactive.
“The reading scores have increased anywhere from 3 to 11 levels as a result of this 15 week program,” Fenley said.
Parents taking part in the “Arts in the Schools” seminar got a chance to see firsthand how the program works and were invited to participate in an interactive workshop.
“If you physically engage them in your lesson – long term memory kicks in and that’s how they really remember things,” Fenley explained.
The goal of the presentation, for Sundog Theatre, was to create buzz among parents.
They hope that parents will go back to their communities and ask schools to add the program.
This year, the 3-D Literacy program will take place at just eleven Staten Island schools.
“You gotta start talking about it in the P.T.A., in the neighborhood saying that this is something that we need,” said McKeever-Thomas.
She emphasized that parents have the power to improve the curriculum of students if they ask for it and get involved.
Some of the other issues discussed at the conference ranged from how to help students transition to middle or high school to dealing with drug use.
“One really specific to Staten Island is the substance abuse work shop because we have such a big problem here,” McKeever-Thomas explained.
Other topics like bullying are addressed each year but the speakers are always different and that gives parents a reason to come back.
“It’s kinda nice to come here because it’s not just to get information but you get feedback from other parents,” said Gail McGraw, who has a son in 5th grade.
According to some attendees, the event also gives parents the tools they need to do their job well.
“Being more knowledgeable about what’s going on, on the school front, so that you can be more effective on the home front,” said attendee Judith Martinez, who has four children.