Partners in Purpose – Part II by Kristin Hemingway

In addition to partnering with the school, I am also a partner with parents in the development of their most precious gifts. I may have the background and experience in education that they don’t possess, but that doesn’t mean that I know what is best for their kids. I encourage parent participation by explaining that we are in this together. I let them know that I can and will meet them where they are to help them get to where they need to go. I encourage and uplift their roles as parents and advocates for their children, and I let them know that I am here to assist them, not takeover for them. I consistently remind them that it is where we work together that we will see the greatest gains for their children and this approach has never failed me. In recognizing that regardless of socio-economic status or educational attainment the vast majority of parents want the absolute best for their children and are doing the best with what they have, I have been able to break down barriers that have previously seemed impenetrable.

And these small things have created the opportunity for even deeper partnership to take place. Not only do I get to provide after school care for these sweet babies, I get to visit them in their classes and learn how best to help them right alongside of them. I am able to reinforce that I care about them beyond what they do for the few hours a week that we are together. I can eat lunch with them and support them in classroom projects, as well as visit them in their homes and support them in their outside of school activities. I can ask teachers for the extra help that their parents may not be able to recognize that they need. I can help equip their parents to help them in ways that their teachers just may not have time to do as they do the 50 other things that they are responsible for.

I have the privilege of being the presence that every student desires, but not all students are able to have. I can stand in the gap for the parents that want to do more, but for whatever reason can’t. I can be the liaison for the teacher that can’t get the parent on the phone, but I get to see face to face. Through purposeful partnership I can be the extra set of hands that most teachers and parents yearn for as we are developing these little loves into the amazing people that they are becoming with our guidance and care. I can play both sides of the fence with great enthusiasm and even better results because I am partnering with both educators and parents to create the absolute best outcomes for the kids that we all love.

Recognizing that no one faction of a students’ community of care has all of the answers necessary to improve overall student outcomes makes becoming a partner in purpose one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our kids and community.

Here’s to an amazing year of partnership opportunities and improved outcomes for our communities’ most precious gifts – our children!

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb

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