Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Parent University

Last year, our Social Worker came up with a brilliant (interpreted as CRAZY) notion. 

"Guys, I got an idea..."

These 5 words rarely lead to something easy to accomplish- but they do often lead to something AMAZING. 

Tabby, our Social Worker and integral part of our Elementary Counseling Team, wanted to create an evening where parents could come and attend mini-sessions that would focus on parenting issues. On paper, it seemed easy. In reality, not so much. But what we did, was create an evening of not only mini-sessions for parents, but free dinner (yep, FREE)... free door-prizes for all attendees (yep, FREE)... and free CHILDCARE (are you hearing me?!?!). Plus we did one per semester. 

I'm not sure how we didn't have parents beating down our doors! 

So why stop at one year... why not do it again.

SO here's a basic guideline of what we did:

     1.) Pick a school, pick a day.
We have six Elementary Schools so we wanted to be able to use all six school eventually. We're focused on using the Elementary Schools because it's for parents of Elementary aged students! Our MS and HS do parent nights but we wanted to do something District wide. Also, make sure you try and avoid school functions, church activities, and Fridays :) This year, ours was on a Thursday from 5:30pm- 7:30pm.

     2.) Just because it's free to parents, does NOT mean it's free to put on!
Yea, we needed funding. Last year, our PTO's were phenomenal at donating money. Each school's PTO donated $50 (equaling $300 to use)! While this may not seem like a ton of money, you must become resourceful.

     3.) Get the word out!
Some parents get tired of their kids bringing home stuff... TOO BAD! We started by sending a Save-The-Date card home. Then a survey where parents could pick up to six different topics that they may be interested in attending. We used this information to help determine what topics to get presenters on. Also they could mark if they were planning on coming and if so, how many kids they would bring. Just because it was directed for parents of Elementary aged students, doesn't mean we didn't want the whole family to come! Moms, dads, siblings, bring em! 

     4.) If you feed them, they will come.
Seriously, provide dinner! The first time we did it, our School Lunch company catered for us. But, it was pretty costly. So this year, we reached out. Papa Johns gave us a HECK of a deal on pizzas. So pizza dinner, with salad (thanks Wal-Mart), dressings (thanks local restaurant), cookies (thanks local bakery), and lemonade (bought from Wal Mart and served in a big 5gal. orange drink cooler- thanks Delta Gamma!).

     5.) Get volunteers!
Parent volunteers- check! Teacher volunteers- check! Community volunteers- check! Our six presenters... ALL local community members from Mental Health professionals, pastors, Behavior Consultants, parents, etc. Our food: served by teacher volunteers from all six buildings. Registration: done by teacher and parent volunteers. Childcare: Media Specialist, Art Teacher, and Gym Teacher. 

     6.) Reward Them!
We had two half-hour sessions where parents could pick from three sessions to attend (six in all and parents got to attend two). Some parents were smart and split up, giving them 4/6 sessions attended. In the folders they received during registration, they had an Evaluation to fill out (ALWAYS GET DATA!). When they turned in their Evaluation, they received a door prize.
What kind of door prize? DONATIONS!!! Local restaurants, fast food, barbers, nail salons, chiropractors, insurance groups, hair salons, Library, Wal Mart, Marsh, pizza places, -You name it, we went there asking for donations. And many said YES!
We also did have to buy some (candles, books, family movies, games, crafts- all focused on building a stronger family!).

So, was it hard? You betcha! 

Was it worth it? 100% YES!

I would encourage you to look into creating a night of family-focused learning for your parents. It'll be worth it too!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Wow, what a whirlwind of a month! I realized it had been almost a month since my last post and almost as long since I've been through my Feedly posts. Obviously the past month has been crazy for everyone but here's a quick recap before I go into what's coming up:

Donuts With Dad- HUGE SUCCESS! Plus I got to have a Donut with my daughter ;)

Red Ribbon Week- My favorite!

I had over 450 signatures at BOTH schools ... All pledging to live their lives Drug Free (and yea, I made the banners~ they matched our Ribbons and the theme "Text Me... Drug Free")

We also had theme days such as "Put a LID on Drugs" (Hat Day), "Turn Your BACK On Drugs" (Backward Shirt Day), and "SHADE Out Drugs" (Sunglasses Day). We don't get too crazy with our theme days :( - something I may be changing soon LOL

Falcon's Fall Literacy Day- This is where we take one whole day and create a 40 minute rotation with stations focused on learning in different Fall-themed ways. From estimating seeds in a pumpkin to learning music and sounds to Vivaldi's Four Seasons to running an obstacle course outside. I was in charge of the K-2 Obstacle Course... and since it was the day after Halloween, I wanted to dress up. SO my Obstacle Course was The Justice League and each obstacle paired with a super hero. We also talked about how reading stories gives us a glimpse into how we can be super everyday... guess what superhero I was?...
I "borrowed" this Clark Kent idea from a fellow School Counselor "cedric324" on Instagram :)
Fall Break- for a whole week... need I say more?

Bulletin Board- So last year I BEGGED for a Bulletin Board at my Wildcat's school... well, over summer break they gave me one... in my office. Where as I had meant in the hallway, I took what I could get. And in my excitement at the beginning of the year, I put green paper on it and border and waited for that one GREAT idea... that three months later FINALLY came. I got the idea from Barbara over at The Corner On Character. Her school does an AMAZING job on character and one of her school bulletin boards was a word search highlighting their school's Pillars. Well, we have our RICHER Principles (Respect, Integrity, Caring, Harmony, Excellence  and Responsibility). So, with a little online help, I created a giant word search featuring all the Principles and lessons we teach and created this:
Every month, I'll change the "search word" and put red yarn over the word that has already been found
Office Rearranged- My Wildcat office has never been my favorite. So I have been changing it around. We had a large trunk in our garage (you know, the kind that goes at the foot of a bed) and it wasn't being used. So I took it in, am using it for seating, and slid my table back. Gave me a lot more space and storage! And man, we all love storage. I have also started using my laptop and am thinking about getting rid of my GIANT junky desk and getting a small table to keep supplies on and clearing up more space. Maybe I'll get a couch? :)

Parent University- This is what's coming up. Every year, the Elementary Counselors and Social Worker (the four of us) host an evening of Free Family Pizza Dinner, Free Childcare, a movie, and Free little class sessions for parents where we have different topics they can go a learn about (Anger Management, Discipline, Grandparents in a parenting role, etc.). The event is this Thursday so I will be posting about it later. Pray for us!

Well, that's all for now. I promise not to hiatus for a month at a time... that is if anyone is actually reading this :) Later I'll write about some AWESOME lessons regarding Harmony and how our school does 9 Week Goal setting! Super fun!

Later gaters!