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Be a Pillar for Our Youth: Create and Foster Relationships This Academic Year By Latasha Schraeder

The close of summer brings the excitement of a new school year, accumulation of the required school supplies, shopping for clothes, and a sense of expectation and opportunity! Parents, administrators, teachers and students frantically prepare to begin one-hundred-eighty days of infinite possibilities and student achievement. Throughout this exciting time, set academic goals with your children and consider how to foster relationships with their teachers and administrators.

While academic achievement is the ultimate goal, holistic student growth requires commitment from all stakeholders: parents, teachers, administrators, and the student. As a parent, it is critical to cultivate working relationships and open dialogue with those who interact with your children during the school day. Remaining in close contact with all stakeholders allows parents to not only keep track of student academic growth, but become aware of any issues that may come about such as bullying or unexpected behavior from your children during the school day.

Many parents don’t know children from diverse ethnic backgrounds are often referred to the office at a higher rate than their peers. These referrals are sometimes due to misunderstandings that stem from cultural differences. For example, a child is perceived as being disrespectful for not making eye contact with his teacher when, in fact, in that child’s culture it is disrespectful for a child to look an adult in the eye.

As a parent, take the time to have open, frank conversations with your children’s teachers. These conversations act as a conduit for relationship building, increasing cultural awareness and information sharing. With a strong foundational relationship in place, if ever a situation arises where your child displays unexpected behavior, your child’s teacher is more likely to contact you to discuss the behavior and brainstorm options with you as opposed to referring your child to the office.

I urge you to develop and nurture these relationships early in the school year and to reach out to your children’s teachers often. Ideally, this school year will bring an abundance of positive experiences. However, in the unlikely event that a behavior consequence is necessary, building and fostering relationships with those in your children’s school building will yield much fruit in the form of open communication, cultural awareness and your knowledge of what transpires during the school day.

As a fellow parent and educator, I encourage you to be bold, ask questions, and be an advocate for your children. At the end of the day, we as parents have hopes, dreams, and aspirations for our children. Our desire is for them to be the best versions of themselves. Take action!

I sincerely wish you and your children a phenomenal school year. “If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~ Alfie Kohn