By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — On Saturday, the tables took a sudden turn when parents went to school and students stayed home.
The occasion was Parent University, the second community-wide event for parents and caregivers of students enrolled in Wakefield’s public school.
Held from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Galvin Middle School, Parent University drew about 150 parents and caregivers.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen K. Zrike launched the program last year and, when asked at the event what he thought of the turnout, he said he was happy about the “enthusiasm and energy of parents.”
“Seventeen members of our staff are presenting today,” he said. “It’s great to build on last year’s success and accommodate family. Putting Parent University together was a lot of work but well worth the effort.”
School board member Thomas Markham III said about the event, “It’s pleasing to see so many parents and teachers involved in something like this. It makes the partnership between parents and teachers stronger as we work to strengthen education in the classroom.”
Keynote speaker Carrie Stack kicked off the morning with an address in the school’s auditorium on “the power of positive parents, children and learning.”
Stack is a certified life coach, author and motivational speaker with more than 20 years of experience providing people with the skills and tools needed to make positive life changes.
At the close of her talk, parents had the option of attending one of about 17 workshops during two sessions where topics ranged from sharing tips for ensuring success as children transition from pre-school to kindergarten, raising and supporting readers, technology basics and learning about tools for connecting educators, parents and communities.
At the elementary and middle school level during the first session, discussions focused on effective behavioral strategies, while at the middle and high school level topics included Google apps in middle school classrooms, research strategies and Common Core and current alcohol, tobacco and other drug facts.
Parents of students in high school learned how to discipline their children in a positive way, how to discuss racism and how to plan financially for college, among others.
During session two, parents of elementary school age children learned about computer science and navigating the cyber world.
At the middle and high school levels, workshops focused on Special Education and alternatives, the use of technology to enhance learning and how to move children from being apathetic toward reading to becoming lifelong readers.
District-wide, workshops ranged from topics such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to understanding key shifts in math called for by the Common Core Standards.
Markham commented that every topic presented was “relevant” to today’s classroom.
“Parents have legitimate questions about what is going on,” he said. “Parent University is a great opportunity to inform parents on what is happening in classrooms.”
The event was sponsored by the Wakefield Co-operative Bank.