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Parental Partners

Wednesday, April 4, 2018  
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By Christina Mimms, SAIS

The role of a parent in a school community can mean several things: an ambassador who spreads the good word about the school, a fund-raiser who supports the school’s financial operations, or a volunteer for whom no job is too small. Ultimately, the school-parent relationship is a partnership that works to support students and the school community as a whole.

At Trinity School in Atlanta, nearly 200 parent volunteers annually support a major fund-raiser called Spotlight on Art. The event, which is open to the public, brings the work of more than 300 artists and 10,000 pieces of art to campus. Proceeds from the sales of jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and more go toward the school’s operating budget, much like an annual fund. The volunteer parent chair works closely with the school’s director of special events to manage the event, but many important roles fall to other parent volunteers.

“We’re very fortunate at Trinity to have a true partnership between the families and the school,” said Margaret Douglas, director of advancement. “We trust parents and value working with them, and that relationship fosters a great experience for the children.”

While parents enjoy doing their part to support the school, many have found that volunteering allows them to get better acquainted with school administration and form friendships with other parents. “There is a sense of camaraderie in working with other parents,” said Melissa Moseley, Trinity parent and chair of the 2018 Spotlight on Art. “It’s a great way for new parents to get to know the community and meet people with children in other grades. It’s also very rewarding – you have a goal and tangible results at the end of the event.”

The program enables parents to use their skills to benefit the school as they work in sales, public relations, cataloguing art, technology, setup, and more. “I didn’t know a lot about art previously and it was great to get to know the artists, see all the art up close, and learn something new,” Moseley said. “It was a real pleasure to work with the Trinity advancement team.”

At Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, SC, parents can choose from 59 different volunteer committees, which include supporting the book fair, helping at chapel services, serving as parent ambassadors in admissions, providing teacher appreciation, supporting a biannual gala, working in the school bookstore, and more. “We want our parents to be involved here,” said Jamie Bryant, director of marketing and public relations. “Parents can easily find something that suits their talents, interest, or experience.”

Division directors are involved with many of the committees, and Head of School Dr. Leonard Kupersmith usually attends meetings of the Community Matters committee, which discusses issues and concerns at the school, much like a parent council. Arts and athletics departments work with their parent groups directly. Bryant and other administrators liaise with various committees on behalf of the school, and they have found that prospective parents typically are excited about the numerous volunteer opportunities.

“As a school, we need to be very welcoming,” Bryant said. “Parents are very invested in their children’s success and their school’s success.”

Volunteering also can provide a teachable moment for young people as they see their parents working – unpaid — to support their school. “It’s important for children to see us in that role,” Moseley said. “They learn to give back and that is an important thing to do in life.” 

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Institute for New Teachers
July 24-26, 2018 | Nashville, TN
Designed to equip new teachers with the skills to guide and support their first years in the classroom.

Board/Head Retreat
October 14, 2018 | Charleston, SC
Designed to strengthen the communication and partnership between the head of school and members of the board.

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