07/13/08 — WCPS Summer Institute is also for parents

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WCPS Summer Institute is also for parents

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 13, 2008 2:00 AM

The third annual "summer institute" for Wayne County Public Schools may be targeted to teachers, but parents are also encouraged to attend, officials say.

Planned for Aug. 5-7 at Raper Hall on the Mount Olive College campus, this year's theme is "Failure is Not an Option."

Initially introduced to provide professional growth and development for teachers, parents were always on the forefront, said Dr. Ruby Bell, director of the district's staff development program.

The sessions center around the state's goals for education, Dr. Bell said -- relevance, rigor and relationship. An estimated 100 workshops will be offered this year.

And while the bulk of them focus on education in the classroom, parents can also attend, said Mary McKoy, Title I parent facilitator for the school system.

"No Child Left Behind says that we have to educate parents, and this is a good opportunity for us to do that," she said.

In addition to the typical workshops on math, reading and literacy, topics covered this year include effective schools partnership; "not for movie of the week," a parents' perspective on autism; building children's' self-esteem; parent/teacher community; an overview of problems arising during the school day; working with children in poverty; bullying; and gang awareness.

The free institute, which drew 60 parents last year, is beneficial in many ways, the officials said.

While veteran teachers can get a refresher course in some areas, newly licensed teachers are required to attend as an opportunity to be better-equipped for the coming school year.

But for the parents, just as summer school sharpens the students, such training makes them aware of available resources and ways to support their child, said Kim Copeland, lead literacy teacher.

"It gives them a really good insight into curriculum, programs and strategies," she said.

"They are getting a better understanding, and also to learn, 'What will my child be learning this year?'" added Ms. McKoy.

The training also allows parents to meet some of the county's educators, as well as their counterparts from other schools.

"There have been a lot of changes from the way school used to be," Ms. McKoy said. "This opens their eyes to what goes on in the schools.

"It kind of lets the parents know they're part of the deal. We need them and value their help and resources."

In addition to individual sessions throughout the three-day event, there were will vendors providing information and resources.

Keynote speaker will be Linda Gambrell, president of National Reading Association, who served as president of the International Reading Association from May 2007 to May 2008.

For more information on the summer institute, or to pre-register, visit the schools' Web site, www.waynecountyschools.org.