Parental involvement is key to student success

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Parents, if you want your kids to succeed in school, it is essential you be there with them.

And while you can't actually be in the classroom, one school district is working had to make sure you still know what is going on.

“We know that the number one predictor of student success is always going to be parental involvement,” said Jonathan Parker, who teaches AP U.S. history at Thunderbird High School. He says students just do better with parents involved.

It is something Chanell Guerra knows as well. Her daughter goes to Greenway High School.

“It is definitely important to be involved in academics,” she said, “to know what is going on, to help her, guide her to the next level of her life."

That is why she was with her daughter, Brianna, at freshman orientation day, which Principal Ed Barnes says is also parent orientation day.

“We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with our parents so that they had a chance to see who their administration team was, what the teacher perspective is of coming in and working with freshmen, and all the resources our district offers," Barnes said.

According to Barnes, Glendale Union High School District has made parental involvement a top priority.

“It is a partnership. We adopt kids for four years, and over that four-year span, the relationship that is there can only happen if the parents are involved.“

So parents here are encouraged to contact teachers directly.

"I think the main important thing is when you get to the school to reach out to that teacher and give them your email address and get theirs as well,” Guerra said.

Fellow parent Ed Smith added, “So you can just talk to them, ask questions. They do get back very quickly, so we have always had a lot of success with email.”

Parents are also encouraged to get kids involved in extracurricular activities.

"Just to be involved, to be with her peers, to be social, to be out there, to be open is also very important throughout the school year," Guerra said.

And parents can check grades, assignments, absences and more at any time thanks to a parent portal they can access online and on the go.

“It does help you get acquainted with your child and, you know, maybe give them some kind of guidance about what their project is about or help them out," Guerra said.

Another parent, Amy Olson, says it helps her make sure her daughter is keeping up.

“I do ask her a lot. I am like, 'Where is your classwork?' or 'What did you do in class today?' ... Now I can actually look in there and see what she is doing," Olson said.

The payoff? Parents feel more connected and students are on the path to success.

“And just to be a main focal point so they can have someone to look up to and know that there is someone there for them to help them throughout their school year," Guerra said.