WAKEFIELD — It’s a novel idea, educators teaching parents.
But it’s an idea that’s sweeping the nation, mostly in bigger school districts such as Boston, New York and Los Angeles.
Parent University is a program that has caught on and, since his arrival in Wakefield, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike has launched the concept here.
The first Parent University in Wakefield got its inauguration in 2014 and the second community-wide event for parents and caregivers of students enrolled in Wakefield’s public schools will be held on Saturday, March 21, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, at the Galvin Middle School.
The event is sponsored by the Wakefield Co-operative Bank and Zrike commented that the Bank has been “very generous.”
“It’s nice to have a corporate sponsor,” he said.
The first 150 people to sign up will receive a Parent University tote bag, and a free, light breakfast will be served before sessions begin. The first session will be held from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.; the second from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Basically, Parent University sessions are designed to engage parents in their children’s education, learn about children’s social and emotional development and provide feedback to school administrative staff on how best to put a school district on the cutting edge.
This year’s keynote speaker is Carrie Stack, who will talk about the “power of positive parents, children and learning” at 8:45 a.m.
According to her bio, Stack is a certified life coach, author and motivational speaker with more than 20 years of experience providing people with the skills and tools they need to make positive life changes.
Stack is founder of the Say Yes Institute, a company focused on building emotional intelligence skills through training and coaching. Her roster of clients includes leaders, managers and staff at more than 50 non-profit agencies.
In her trainings, she has shared her strategies for developing sound people skills with thousands looking to build more positive and powerful relationships, both at home and at work.
She was named in “101 Women to Watch” by WE magazine and was featured on 7-News, FOX 25, the Boston Globe and Boston Library magazine.
Those attending Parent University on March 21 will be offered a choice of two workshops on various topics related to education and the development of social and educational skills. A sample list includes:
• How to raise and support your reader
• Understanding the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program and Google apps
• Common Core Standards, kindergarten through grade 5 and grades 6 through 12
• Anxiety and depression, social media/cyber safety and helping with homework
• Substance abuse prevention
• College financial planning and more
Free child care will be offered by Wakefield Academy staff for the younger set but parents must register by March 13 to be eligible.
For now, Parent University is a once-a-year program but it could expand to twice annually if the demand is great.
“If the appetite is there, we will try to offer Parent University twice a year,” said Zrike.
He also mentioned that about half of Parent University’s instructors are Wakefield teachers and some are parents themselves. Topics they will address include curriculum tools and teaching practices.
A survey distributed to parents who attended last year’s event resulted in 100 respondents, which demonstrated to Zrike that Parent University was on the track toward success.
Zrike specifically named a core group of educators and volunteers who have assisted in bringing the program to Wakefield: Anne Miller, Catherine Dhingra, Stephanie Alpert, Sara Roehrich and Peggy Macaluso. He also mentioned his executive assistant Karen Fitzpatrick as being an important cog in the wheel.
“There’s a lot of work involved in getting Parent University up and running,” he said. “But it’s worth the effort.”