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UCPS holds its first Parent Engagement Conference

Ryan Dougherty, a UCPS math curriculum specialist, talks about changes in what and how students are expected to prepare for a successful college and careers. He focused on CCSS math standards in today’s classroom in grades pre K through grade eight. (Below) Benton Heights AIG teacher Kim Harris discusses the social and emotional needs of a gifted student and the effects of grading and assessments, high expectations and a variety of internal and external motivations the gifted learner faces at school and at home.

Monroe Middle School was the scene of the school system’s first Union County Public Schools Parent Engagement Conference, which catered to parents at Title One Schools as well as parents of Academically and Intellectually Gifted students (AIG).

Event coordinator Lisa Gibson, a UCPS title one specialist, said part of the success of the event was gathering a variety of families in one place. “I like the idea of pulling our diverse populations together,” she said.

The theme of the conference was “Education – It’s a family affair, pairing and sharing for the future.”

“We wanted to give parents the opportunity to not only pair up with staff, but also with each other,” Gibson said. “We hope this is an opportunity for parents to gain strength from one another.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Wesley Carter, founder and CEO of Kids by Carter, LLC. She designs and executes programs and protocols specifically designed to increase student achievement and decrease unproductive behaviors.

Parents from all UCPS Title One Schools were invited to attend, including parents from Benton Heights, East, Rock Rest, Walter Bickett, Sardis, Marshville, Union, Wingate and Rocky River Elementary Schools.

Parents of AIG-identified students were also invited from every UCPS elementary and middle school.

Gibson said the conference went very well. “I’m really pleased,” she said. “This conference was provided by the Federal Programs and the AIG Department. The support from the staff has been great. They’re all here working on a Saturday. And they stayed late last night to help me set up.”

One well-attended workshop was “Transition from Elementary to Middle School.”

“That workshop had a lot of interest,” Gibson said. “So having the conference at the middle school gave elementary parents an opportunity to be in the building and get a feel for the middle school.”

There were three sessions, with each session having eight 40-minute workshops (all running simultaneously) for parents to choose from per session. “The workshops were anything from behavior management to health and nutrition,” Gibson said.

Workshops included such topics as “Family/School Partnerships: Advocating for Your Child’s Success,” “Transitioning to the Common Core State and Essential Standards: New Math Standards for Success in College and Careers in the Classroom; the Tech Savvy Student,” “What It Means To Be Gifted,” “Understanding the Exceptional Child: How UCPS Can Support Your Child,” “Busy Parents Raising Healthy Kids,” “Positive Discipline,” and “Maximizing The One-parent Household.”

Gibson said another part of the conference’s success was the community involvement. “The community has really stepped up,” she said. “They gave up their Saturday to be here so they could talk with our families.”

More than 30 community agencies and area business contributed to the conference. Some of the community partners included the American Red Cross, the Union County Chamber of Commerce, the Union County Health Department, Union County Community Action, Carolina Medical Center, Piedmont Behavior Healthcare, and the College Foundation of North Carolina.

About 20 Monroe Middle student ambassadors were assigned to the presenters, escorting them around the school and assisting them throughout the conference. There were also about 20 students from Union County Early College, Central Academy of Technology and Arts and Monroe High who assisted with children’s activities while parents are in sessions.

Gibson said the online registration went very well, with more than 100 parents attended the event. Gibson said next year’s conference is slated to host even more parents.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Feb 12, 2013 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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