This Newark Public School Knows How to Nurture Parent Partnerships

As a parent, you can’t help but be awed by what your kids are learning in school. But there’s a whole world of learning outside the classroom, and Newark’s schools are doing a great job of ensuring that students are exposed to it. The school district’s Parent Partnership Program ensures that the community—including parents—is actively engaged in the schools every step of the way.

A few weeks ago we posted about a group of Newark Public School teachers who are offering their students a “Parent Partnerships” course to help them get their parents involved in their education. The course is for students in grades 6-12 and is as much about actual relationships with parents as it is about their education.

In an effort to improve student success, New Jersey’s Newark Public School District (NPS) introduced an innovative program in which administrators, staff, and community partners work together to help parents access their children’s education. The Parent Partnerships program ensures that parents have all the information they need to support their children’s education, and helps them explore new educational opportunities.

Roseville Community Charter School in Newark has made a great achievement: Ensure student and family engagement during the busiest school year in a century. How did the directors do? By establishing deep partnerships with parents, with an emphasis on creative problem solving. This public charter school, with about 300 children in kindergarten through fourth grade (98% low-income, 10% disabled, 19% English-speaking, half black, half Spanish-speaking), is an example of how to get ahead in times of crisis.

Remarkable: Roseville, located in the northwest corner of Newark, is one of four charter schools closed by order of Newark Superintendent Roger Leon of the New Jersey Department of Education. The Department of Energy refused to comply with his order. In rebuttal to Leon’s claims, the NJ Children’s Foundation* pointed out that student achievement in Roseville is higher than in the district. There are now 332 children on the waiting list for the school.

Chalkbeat reports on the efforts of the school’s principal, Dr. Dionne Ledford. When the school and its staff noticed during distance learning that some pupils did not have suitable furniture, the school provided everyone with portable tablets and noise-cancelling headphones. Despite the difficulties in Newark, perhaps the New Jersey city hardest hit by Covid-19, students with disabilities returned to school full time last fall, and when Ledford heard about the problems with child care, so did the children of key students. Roseville offered parents workshops on parenting, financial literacy, and handling the various computer programs used for distance learning. They have organized Zoom parties and reading days.

From Chalkbeat:

When a family arrived who had recently survived a house fire, Dr. Dionne Ledford, the school’s principal, called them aside. She presented the third-grader and his mother with $1,100 in Walmart gift cards that school officials had collected to help the family recover.

One of the families involved is John and Oyefunmilola Dairo, whose first-grader Abigail attends Roseville High School. John works in the warehouse of Papa John’s and Oyefunmilola is a caretaker. While one worked, the other oversaw the online training, and Abigail never missed a day of class. When Abigail went back to school two days a week, as Roseville began its transition to enrollment, she asked her parents every night if she would be going to a real school the next day. This is my favorite part, she says.

Paula White, a former principal in Newark who now leads Educators for Excellence-New York, said: You could not have experienced this school year without your parents’ partnership. At this point, there’s no point in not involving the parents.

* The New Jersey Children’s Foundation has awarded a grant to brightbeam to support this platform.

The original version of this article was posted on NJ Ed Report.Newark Public Schools (NPS) was established in 1867 and continues to operate as the largest school district in New Jersey. To this day, every year the administration and faculty collaborate to create a list of the Top 100 Influential NPS Families.

NPS’s Parent Partnership Program is an exciting initiative that has helped families become more involved in the school community. Parents are invited to join a “Parent Advisory Council” that is comprised of parents who are passionate about making a difference at their child’s school.. Read more about newark public schools hiring process and let us know what you think.


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