The initiative, "Building Bridges," aimed to create a collaboration between the schools, students’ homes, and the community, where the responsibility for children’s learning is a shared endeavor. Phelps talked with parents about the research on parental involvement in school that finds, regardless of family income or background, students with parents involved in their school/academics are more likely to attend school regularly, perform better academically, show better social skills, and graduate with plans to go onto post-secondary education. Many parents have shared with Phelps their desire to help their children academically and to be involved in their education, but language barriers and not knowing how to help their students with their work often prevent them from doing so. Phelps offered suggestions for conversations that parents can have with their children about their academics and how they can check on their child's progress through an online portal called Home Access Center.
Also discussed were ideas surrounding homework such as sticking to a daily homework schedule, and for parents to make sure the homework environment is free of distractions, cell phones, and television. Phelps said it’s important for parents to know there are ways they can help students with their homework but to avoid doing it for them.
During the ‘Q & A’ sessions, parents also inquired about homework expectations, school policies, the ESL program, and about various resources available, one of which is the Community Schools Program. The Seaford Community Schools Initiative of Children & Families First is a program housed within Seaford Middle School and Fred Douglass Elementary School and serves as an intermediary for the needs of Seaford students and families on a variety of fronts (parent workshops, family fun nights, after-school programs, connecting families with needed resources, etc.).
School officials answered questions and took notes on issues to be discussed at the district level. Also discussed were the Common Core State Standards, the new Smarter Balanced Assessment, and options that students have available to them such as the SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) scholarship that allows students to attend Delaware Technical and Community College tuition-free for graduating with a 2.5 grade point average.
All parties expressed the desire to continue developing the relationship between school, home, and the community. Phelps noted that Seaford Middle School will be hosting a ‘Brunch & Munch’ session on Saturday, March 14th at 9am, where all Seaford parents and families are invited to enjoy some brunch and to ‘chat’ with an administrator about any questions or concerns they may have.
The ‘Building Bridges’ sessions took place at La Iglesia de Dios Maranatha Church on January 11th and EbenEzer SDA Haitian Church on January 24th. School officials attended worship services, had lunch with the congregation, and spoke with the respective groups after the service.
Other attendees from Seaford School District included Nadege Pyatt (Associate Principal, Seaford Middle), Diane Abrams (ESL Teacher, Seaford Middle), Richard Destine (Paraprofessional at Seaford Middle), Rony Flechier (Math teacher, Seaford High), Siegfried Howell (Chemistry teacher, Seaford High), and Angela Anderson (ESL Teacher, Seaford High).