While many parents may struggle with helping their children navigate their education, those who attended the second Tullahoma City Schools Parent Summit at East Middle School last weekend won’t have the same difficulties.
The summit, held Feb. 2, saw scores of parents and even some students stop by and learn what resources are available to them to help make their time in Tullahoma City Schools easier.
According to summit coordinator Kim Adkins, the theme of the second summit was geared toward helping parents and students find their passions through their education and giving them the tools necessary to keep building those passions into careers.
Representatives from local post-secondary schools like Motlow State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Shelbyville (TCAT) gave presentations on the various programs available to students once they leave high school, while TCS Gifted Specialist Mindy Jurus showed participants what kinds of online video resources students could use to learn in more entertaining ways through YouTube.
Adkins said there were more attendees at this summit than the September summit, which she found encouraging. While the number of participants who pre-registered was “about the same,” Adkins said she saw more people come in that morning saying they hadn’t completed pre-registration.
Even the flu going around didn’t seem to put a damper on the number of people who attended. Adkins said she’d had a number of pre-registered parents call to say they were unable to make it due to their children contracting the flu, but there was still a large number of attendees.
Adkins credited the increased number of attendees, in part, to the work of Tullahoma High School marketing students.
According to Adkins, she enlisted the help of high school students in Sharon Woodard’s marketing class to increase awareness about the event, which paid off the morning of the summit.
“Our marketing class at the high school really helped come up with the plan of marketing this year,” Adkins said.
Some of the suggestions from the marketing students included spreading word about the summit via social media, including using the Facebook Marketplace feature.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Adkins said.
Additionally, Adkins said, the marketing students designed the flier used for the summit and suggested having a raffle for certain items for those who attended.
The students also helped by spreading the word about the summit themselves, she said.
“They also took about 500 fliers and put them in churches and businesses and around their school,” she said. They even handed out the fliers at sporting events, she added.
As with the previous summit in September, one of the more popular seminar topics was Tori Counts’s lessons on behavior strategies.
During two different sessions, Counts saw her classroom nearly full with parents and students interested in learning how to correct problem behaviors in order to bring harmony to both the home and the classroom.
One parent who found Counts’s discussion useful was LeeAnn Sintic, who has two children in the school system.
Sintic said she found the lesson helpful in giving her tools that could help her better work with her 13- and 6-year-old children when it comes to problem behaviors.
“I like that it gave me different tools to use at home,” she said.
One tool in particular Sintic said she found helpful was the idea of allowing her children to earn rewards rather than accrue punishments.
“My big takeaway was,” she said, “instead of always taking [things] away, what can they earn to get back?”
Having that option as an alternative to certain punishments might help her help her middle school-aged child, she said.
“It’s mainly my middle-schooler,” she said. “Trying to figure out what’s going to help him – what can I do as a parent to help him navigate [middle school]? Middle school is tough.”
Parents weren’t the only ones who learned a thing or two during the summit. Even TCS employees were able to participate and gain some new tools to use in their classrooms.
East Lincoln Elementary School kindergarten teacher Mallory Taylor said she found the summit to be incredibly insightful. She sat in on a seminar taught by two of her colleagues concerning homework help and study tips that helped to ease some of her worries as a parent.
“As a parent you do get frustrated sometimes with homework,” she said. “It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who gets frustrated, that I’m not in that alone.”
Though Taylor teachers kindergarten, she has a 7-year-old son in the first grade at Jack T. Farrar Elementary School, and helping him with his homework can be a challenge sometimes, she said.
“Even though I am a teacher, I am [also] my child’s parent,” she said. “I’m not their teacher, and they know that.”
Approaching homework help as a parent is different than as a teacher, she said, so trying to help her son with his homework “was something that we struggle with.”
Taylor said the biggest and most important takeaway she learned from her colleagues’ seminar was being consistent in approaching homework time.
“Having a specific time that they know that homework will happen every day,” was something Taylor felt was extremely important, both as a teacher and a parent. Another plus came in the form of a “homework bucket.”
According to Miranda Tucker, one of the instructors of the seminar Taylor attended, having a designated space for all the tools and supplies children will need for their homework can help keep homework time as stress-free as possible.
Taylor said that idea was a great one, because the way that bucket is designed is completely up to each parent or their child, and all the things they could possibly need to do homework are stored in one place.
“There’s markers and pencils and everything he needs, and we don’t have to go searching [for those items] every day,” she said.
Another resource Taylor found helpful was how Tucker and her colleagues showed the other parents what online programs are available to use at home.
As a teacher, Taylor is familiar with certain programs students use in the classroom. She is also aware that some of the in-class programs she uses are also available for parents to use at home with their children.
“Parents don’t realize what the kids are on at school that they can get on as well,” she said.
By giving parents the information about these online programs, they can more easily help their children with the lessons they learn from them, Taylor said.
“That’s what we do every day in class,” she said, so when students ask for “the game where I build my popcorn words,” parents can understand what their children mean and use them for free at home.
After they attended their preferred seminars, parents were asked to fill out a short survey to give their feedback and make suggestions for future summit topics, according to Adkins.
From the responses she received, Adkins said this summit was a success.
“All of the responses were positive,” she said.
As far as suggestions for the next summit, which will take place in April, Adkins said there were multiple requests for more resources for parents of children with special needs.
“We will make some tweaks to the program based on feedback from participants,” she said.
Adkins said she will once again work with the marketing students at the high school for promotional ideas and “hopefully generate some new ideas to increase attendance.”
She added that one component of the next summit will include a focus on the various summer camps and family-friendly activities available during the summer break.
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.