Wayne County Public Schools in Partnership with Operation Unite Goldsboro held a back to school information session for parents Thursday night at the WCPS Professional Development and Family Engagement Center, home of the former School Street School.

A dozen vendors showed up representing such agencies as Wayne County Public Library, Boy and Girl Scouts, Kinetic Minds After School Program, W.A. Foster Center and Impact Teens Goldsboro.

The only thing missing were the parents -- out of the three dozen people in the audience, the bulk of them were school employees and vendors.

"We don't have an overcrowded room of parents," Mark Colebrook, founder of Operation Unite Goldsboro, said at the outset. "But the great thing is we have everybody here."

Dr. Carol Artis, WCPS executive director of curriculum and instruction and federal programs, echoed the sentiment.

"It's not exactly what we had in mind," she said. "We had hoped we would have a lot of parents to come around.

"I hope you won't feel like tonight was a wasted night but one that was the beginning of something great and something good."

Caroline Brown, parent engagement coordinator, lightened the mood by handing out colored stickers and making sure everyone in the room received a prize, donated by area businesses.

"We had hoped that the room would be packed with parents," she said, explaining that one reason behind the event's date was because today (Friday) is International Literacy Day.

Reading is the foundation for everything in life, she told the audience, and that includes ensuring children become financially literate as well as possessing social and emotional literacy.

She provided a brief tutorial of the district's web page, www.waynecountyschools.org, pointing out such features as Parent Tools and Home Base, which allows parents to see attendance and grades, and School Messenger, an automated notification system for such things as closures and schedule changes. The district also has an app, she said.

The adage that "it takes a village to raise a child" was parlayed into the purpose behind the parent night.

"Our goal tonight was to bring the village here, in one location," she said, challenging those in the audience to spread the message. "Don't keep the news to yourself. Spread it to your neighborhood, to your church, to your sororities, because we definitely do want to get the information out and be a resource to help our children be successful.

"That's our goal."

Jacobi Catlett, a kindergartner at North Drive, slept through most of the program.

But his guardian, Lillie Jones, was paying attention.

She showed up, she said, to learn more about what is being done to improve the schools.

"I appreciate the fact that Goldsboro Unite and WCPS are working together to get parents more involved in their children's education," she said afterward. "I think it's a good thing for parents to have the resources."

More events and trainings for parents are planned in the future, officials said.

Beverly Kee, assistant director of federal programs, said a parent seminar is planned for Oct. 12 at the Family Engagement Center.

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., there will be breakout sessions and keynote speaker, Principal Baruti Kafele, who spoke at the district's recent Summer Institute.

The event is free and the district will provide transportation, child care and lunch.