Laura Varlas

Getting Everyone to Graduation (Parents, Too)

If you hand a high school transcript to a parent who's never had it explained to them, you're making a big leap that they're going to know why their kid's not on track to graduate, principal Ben Shuldiner said in his Saturday session "How to Get All Students to Graduate."

He and guidance counselor Sarah Kornhauser discussed the High School for Public Service's extensive outreach plan to the families of its 400 students. Founded in 2003, the school, where 90 percent of students ar on free and reduced lunch, was recently named the number-one Titl I school in New York State.

The school organizes several informative and fun parent outreach sessions throughout the four years of high school—from 8th grade orientation to 12th grade sessions on navigating FAFSA and other financial aid forms.

It's important to bring parents in early, give them the tools to navigate and decipher school—speak and processes, and make sure that parents and teachers are on the same page. Show respect for parents by bringing them in to the graduation goal as partners. We can't be successful without spelling out each and every part of the process to parents, Kornhauser said.

But what happens when, despite an entrenched college-going culture at the school, parents don't show up to 12th grade college-planning night or 10th and 11th grade on-track-to-graduate night?

"We love parents, we want them to be there, but don't wait for them," said Shuldiner. Parents shouldn't be an excuse for giving up on a kid. If parents can't be there, the kids should still be there.

 

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