IRSD races to the top with parent center

Date Published: 
March 25, 2011

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act – commonly referred to as the stimulus package, or stimulus funds – provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program.

Last March, Delaware was named as winner of the first round of the Race to the Top, to the tune of $100 million. Fast-forward a year, and one of the programs coming out of that is the new Parent Education Center at the G.W. Carver Educational Center – located at the former Frankford Elementary School building on Frankford School Road in Frankford – which is designed to further engage parents in the education of their children.

The Race to the Top program is “designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, ensuring student preparation for success in college and careers; and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas.”

Those four areas are “adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy; building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction; recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and turning around the lowest-achieving schools.

Nika Reid, hired just this past February to administer the program at G.W. Carver, said the goal of their program is to “increase parental involvement to promote academic achievement and social growth.”

The program will offer parenting classes and will have a computer lab equipped with 12 computers that will be available to parents for things like job searches or direct links to the Department of Health and Social Services.

“Anything they would need,” explained Reid, “from finding housing to résumé building – it will run the whole gamut.”

She said they want to know the needs of the community and how the district can be of better service to the parents and the families, with the ultimate goal of academic achievement for all students.

U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del) recently visited Indian River High School to congratulate them on being a model school, and both senators emphasized trying to figure out the “parental involvement” element of student success.

Reid comes to the program with a background in psychology and school counseling. Her undergraduate degree is in psychology, her master’s degree in school counseling, and before coming to G.W. Carver, she worked in human services and was a family crises therapist, and most recently, she was a school counselor with the Caesar Rodney School District for the past 13 years. She is ready to hit the ground running.

“I’m really excited. I’m ready to get out in the community and meet with parents,” Reid said. “We are not just creating programs, but we really want to see what parents need. We want to motivate parents and caregivers, and let them know that we can’t do it without them.”

IRSD Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting said she is equally excited about the Parent Education Center and what it represents for both the Indian River School District and the community.

“The Parent Education Center is one of the cornerstones of our Race to the Top plan, so we are excited about this unique opportunity to provide additional services to parents,” Bunting said.

“By strengthening our partnerships with parents, we hope to enhance their children’s education. We are confident that the center, under the guidance of our talented coordinator, Mrs. Nika Reid, will be successful in providing families with valuable resources to promote academic success.”

Reid said that, once the program is in full swing, she will most likely offer non-traditional hours for classes, so she can meet the needs of daytime workers. She said she is looking forward to creating a true collaboration between the district and the families, and the community agencies and organizations, so the students can truly be set up for academic achievement.

“We want to know the heart of the community,” she said. “It’s truly a partnership. It’s going to take more than Mom and Dad, and the school can’t do it alone.”

The Parent Education Center at G.W. Carver in Frankford will hold an open house on Thursday, April 7, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., complete with door prizes and refreshments celebrating Parent/Community Night.

The event is open to anyone, including parents of the students at the Richard Allen School, which is housed in the same building, and to all families in the district.

Reid asked for those community agencies or community leaders that received an invitation to RSVP by Friday, April 1, to Walter S. Smith, principal, or to herself, Nika Reid, parent education coordinator, at (302) 732-3800.

Anyone interested in the center can contact Reid for more information by phone, e-mail or by stopping in. They also have plans to have a Web site built.

The G. W. Carver Educational Center is located at 30207 Frankford School Road in Frankford.