Communications. in the Summit Public Schools. Your role as a high school parent

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1 Communications in the Summit Public Schools Your role as a high school parent Dear Parents, The Summit Board of Education believes that the education of children is a joint responsibility - one we share with the parents and the school community. The cooperation of school staff and parents is beneficial to the growth and education of the whole child. Students do best when parents and teachers understand each other s expectations and stay in touch with one another regarding the child s learning habits, attitudes toward school, social interactions, and academic progress. Communication between the school and the home is most effective when it flows in both directions, and schools should distinguish between efforts to inform parents and opportunities to communicate with parents. (Redding 2000, 17) One of the most important elements of that cooperation is a strong program of communication between home and school that is effective, ongoing, and encourages parental involvement in their child s education. Because you are so aware of the needs, problems, gifts, and abilities of your child, your input is vital to ensure success in school. In fact, the board of education has emphasized the importance of communication by establishing it as one of four focus areas for the Summit Schools. Good communication between home and school also provides a positive model for the students and helps them to develop effective communication skills. Page 1 of 6

2 To keep parents aware of their child s progress in school, we have established various methods of communication that are appropriate to grade level and curriculum content. The methods of communication evolve through the elementary schools, middle school, and high school to include more student participation in the process. Increased student involvement in home/school communication builds upon the student s development and enforces personal responsibility for academic success. Whether your concerns are for a kindergartner or for a high school senior considering the options for the future, your role as a parent is very important. It is both our responsibility and yours to maintain productive, respectful, and open lines of communication to benefit the development and education of your child. We hope you find this brochure helpful in providing you with guidelines for communicating successfully with our staff and administrators. As ever, we thank you for your support of the Summit Public Schools and commend you on your commitment to your child. Sincerely, The Summit Board of Education Effective Communications The following information has been compiled as part of the effort to meet the goals of the Summit Public Schools Focus Area on Communication. The primary goal of communication between home and school is to benefit the student. For effective communication to take place, guidelines must be followed. As part of regular staff training, our teachers and administrators have been educated on how to best communicate with parents. Here we provide you with the same information we have used to instruct our staff, and we hope it will serve as a guideline for you when communicating with school personnel. If you have a concern regarding your child, your first contact should be a telephone call to the staff member most closely associated with the issue; in most cases, this would be the classroom teacher. Every effort should be made to address a situation at the source before bringing an issue to a principal or supervisor. It is the responsibility of our staff to provide the optimum educational environment for all Summit students. We realize your child is your top priority, but please keep in mind that your requests and expectations must be kept in balance with the needs of all the students for whom a teacher is responsible. Page 2 of 6

3 Communication Opportunities If you wish to have a conference with one of your child s teachers or another member of the staff, you may call your child s guidance counselor to arrange a date and time for the meeting. It is imperative that you make a conference appointment in advance. You should not expect a teacher or administrator to speak with you if you arrive at the school unannounced. Also, Back to School Night, usually held in the fall, is not an appropriate time to attempt to speak to a teacher about specific issues regarding your child. There are a variety of programs held over the four years of high school that are designed to give parents the information they need to help their children make progress. These programs include, along with Back to School Night, Freshmen Parents Orientation, Junior Parents Night, College Night, and Senior Parent Night. Regarding Athletics We encourage parental interest in our athletic events; your support is an integral part of the program. However, it is vitally important that our student athletes learn to become selfadvocates. A parent s concern for their child s experiences on the playing field is understandable, but we ask you to allow the coaches to effectively run the program. If you do have concerns, contacting the coach after the game in a professional and respectful manner is the expectation. Homework High school students should take responsibility for independent learning. However, it is important that parents give students every opportunity to challenge themselves and to learn from their own efforts. If a parent is concerned about homework assignments, teachers can provide additional information. In cases where a student is absent for a day or two, he or she should attempt to keep up Page 3 of 6

4 with homework. Be sure your child has classroom contacts who can supply them with assignments. If your child is absent for three days or more, call the school s main office, and arrangements will be made for you to pick up your child s assignments the next day. In the event that your child is ill and will be absent more than two weeks, home instruction is available. Contact the guidance counselor for specific details and procedures. Teachers typically review the homework requirements with students at the beginning of the school year, including grading procedures. You can support the development of responsibility and independence of your child by encouraging him/her to meet with the teacher to discuss any concerns. If you are concerned about a homework situation that your child has not been able to resolve, call the teacher to discuss the issue. PowerSchool/Progress Reports In the middle of fall of 2006, a pilot program began at Summit High School that allows students and parents to access student academic information via PowerSchool. PowerSchool is the district s academic database that is accessible on-line. The high school administration sent letters explaining PowerSchool along with a user name and password that allows students and their families to access the PowerSchool program. The names and passwords should remain confidential at all times. By accessing PowerSchool, students and their families are able to view the students current academic standing in all their classes. On occasion, where there are significant academic problems, it may be necessary to monitor a student s progress more frequently. In those cases parents should work with the teacher, in conjunction with the guidance counselor where applicable, to develop a reasonable and efficient system of monitoring. Voice Mail/ Staff members can be contacted by phone and by . Your initial contact with a staff Page 4 of 6

5 member should be by phone. If staff members want to communicate with parents by , they will supply the parents with their address. Please be aware that confidential or sensitive communications should be made in a phone conversation and not through . A teacher s voice mail can be accessed by calling the school and following the directions on the recorded greeting. If there is an emergency, a secretary can be accessed during school office hours (7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.) by pressing zero at any time during the recording. Staff will review incoming voice mail messages daily and will respond usually within one or two school days. In the event a staff member does not return your call within two school days, please attempt to contact the staff member again. If you still do not receive a response, please contact the staff member s supervisor or principal. In your voice mail message, please leave your name, your child s name, and give a time and phone number where you can be reached either during the day or in the evening. Teachers phone numbers listed in student phone directories are voice mail extensions and are never answered directly by the teachers. Any direct phone contact to a teacher must be made through a school s main office. Calls will not be put through to a teacher while class is in session, except in the case of an emergency. Following the initial telephone contact, teachers will inform you how best to continue to communicate with them. If you will be communicating with a staff member via , be sure to include your child s name in the Subject line of your message. At present, the suggestion of making your initial contact with a staff member by telephone is the most effective. However, a Communications Committee, comprised of teachers, administrators, and parents, is currently investigating ways in which technology can improve communications between home and school. In fact, a pilot program is being conducted at the high school this year through which parents and students can access grades at home through the internet. Following the work of the Communications Committee, it is expected that an increased use of technology will be recommended. Security Doors in all schools are locked during the school day. Visitors need to be buzzed in at the Page 5 of 6

6 main entrance of each school. When entering a school, all visitors, including parents and volunteers, must report directly to the main office of each building. Visitors will be asked to sign in and will be given an access badge to other areas of the building if they have an appointment with a staff member. Before leaving the building, visitors must return the badge to the main office and sign out. Arrangements will be made for special event days that bring large numbers of parents into a school. In Summary High school parents should encourage their children to become advocates for themselves. The mutual goal of parents and school staff is to support the students in becoming fully independent learners as they move through the high school years. Therefore, it may sometimes be necessary for parents to step back and allow their children to be their own advocates and to learn to deal effectively with the adults with whom they come in contact. January 2007 Page 6 of 6

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