When elementary schooler KayLynn transferred to Penn Elementary in 2013, her mother, Ms. Yolanda Williams, made sure to do her research on her new school. Moving to a new school is challenging for all students but especially KayLynn because she has Down syndrome. To help KayLynn make a smooth transition, Ms. Williams made visits to the school before the year started to introduce KayLynn to Penn’s building and staff.
Today KayLynn is thriving and enjoying school. Ms. Williams has a great relationship with KayLynn’s teacher and is thrilled with the progress KayLynn has made as a student and individual.
Ms. Williams now volunteers at the school a twice a week and is president of Penn’s Parent Advisory Council.
Ms. Williams said her presence at Penn “helps KayLynn know that I want her to succeed and that I’m here for her.”
Over the past few years, Ms. Williams has built strong relationships with Penn staff, including the principal, Dr. Sherryl Moore-Ollie.
Both Dr. Ollie and Ms. Williams share the goal of increasing parent engagement at Penn.
Penn Elementary has had a Parent Advisory Council for the last several years, but Dr. Ollie explained that getting consistent parent involvement has been a challenge.
“The more parents know about what’s happening in our school community, the better it is for students,” Dr. Ollie said. “It helps them to be more successful.”
To increase family engagement this year, Dr. Ollie partnered with Turning the Page. Now Penn families have the opportunity to meet each other and Penn staff at several Turning the Page events throughout the year. Families eat dinner with Penn staff and discuss how they can work together to make students more successful. These events provide a spring board for parents to get more involved.
Dr. Ollie and Ms. Williams make a great team and they enjoy discussing how the school can better engage parents. Right now Ms. Williams is working hard to promote her monthly council meetings and to get consistent parent participation at each.
“She’s very involved with her child’s education,” Dr. Ollie said about Ms. Williams. “I like her personality and consistency. She’s a go-getter and she doesn’t give up.”
Ms. Williams said that every parent has different experiences and abilities they can bring to the Parent Advisory Council. She wants to form a council of parents who have children of different ages and include parents of children who are bi-lingual or have special needs.
“Parents add diversity to the school,” Ms. Williams. “They have different educations and experiences, and when brought together they can have a great conversation.”
Dr. Ollie and Ms. Williams are excited to continue working with Turning the Page this year and improve family engagement at Penn Elementary!