On Parents’ Day, we’re celebrating student potential

Posted Thursday, Jul. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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In my bilingual first-grade class at Logan Elementary, we spent the past school year working hard to master the math, reading, writing and social skills my students would need to be ready for second grade and successful throughout their time in school.

Many started the school year behind academically, so we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us, but my kids were eager and committed to getting ready for second grade and beyond.

One student, J’Kwon, wants to be a hip hop artist when he grows up, so he put in extra time to master language arts so he can achieve his goal.

Another student, Naydelin, worked hard to earn top scores in every subject, knowing that if she is to become a teacher, she has to be skilled in every area.

We had a lot of support in our educational journey this year, without which my kids probably couldn’t have made almost two years of reading growth in just one school year.

With the collaboration of fellow teachers, committed administrators and community members, my students were able to show the world what they’re capable of and will start second grade reading and doing math on grade level.

Our greatest partners in this effort were my students’ parents. As we celebrate Parents’ Day on Sunday, I extend my gratitude for their unyielding commitment to giving their children a bright future and the unflagging partnership they showed to me as advocates for their kids.

Hidai’s father came to school two times a week to spend time with his daughter and help her become a better reader. He would sit on the carpet with the class during story time and would help monitor the class during independent work.

Adriana’s mother would stop me after school and ask for books and flash cards to help Adriana read on grade level. In the morning Adriana would give me handwritten notes from her mom telling me that she had practiced for 45 minutes at home.

It is often said that parents are their children’s first teachers. A parent’s role as teacher doesn’t stop when a child enters school. We teachers need and invite their continued engagement and support.

All too often, there’s a misperception that parents, especially in low-income communities like ours in Stop Six, don’t want to be a part of their children’s education. That’s false.

As the parents in my classroom demonstrate, all parents have the desire and capacity to support student learning. We educators need to do a better job of inviting them in and leveraging their unique knowledge and experience.

It wasn’t always easy for many of my students’ parents to get involved. Most are working long hours at more than one job; a number are new to the country and don’t speak fluent English.

Yet they made the time to talk with me at the beginning and end of the school day, reviewed their children’s academic progress with a fine-tooth comb and sought ways they could bolster in-school learning with at-home activities.

It took some time to build relationships, but by the end of the year we had discovered the best way to work toward our shared goal of giving their children every educational opportunity we can.

Thank you to all the parents who work alongside teachers and support their students as growing scholars and citizens. And thank you to the educators who create an inclusive atmosphere that leverages the wisdom of every family to bolster student learning.

Together, we can ensure every student has access to the excellent education they deserve.

Juan Jimenez is a first-grade teacher at Maude I. Logan Elementary School in Fort Worth and a member of Teach For America’s 2012 teaching corps. jimenezdps@gmail.com

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