Photo courtesy EPISD

Middle school principals stay connected to parents via virtual coffee, lemonade socials

It’s bring your own coffee to the virtual ‘Coffee with the Principal’ these days as middle school parents zoom into meetings to connect with their children’s schools and keep informed.

“We are getting more people at our virtual meetings than we sometimes get in our in-person meetings,” said Lincoln Middle principal Haidi Appel. “It is even more important to reach the parents right now as they are in a very new reality.  We need to be there to support them as well as their children.  Parents are not teachers in the same sense as classroom teachers and they want to be able to help their child as much as possible.  Parents are the most important teachers.”

Questions and topics addressed vary from campus to campus but include: STAAR, grading policy, attendance, credits, virtual learning, yearbooks, picking up items, algebra readiness, physical fitness/wellness, social emotional and promotion celebrations.

“Parents are currently the main line to the students and are essential members of the team in trying to reach and educated the students in this new platform,” said Jason Yturralde, principal of Henderson and Ross middle schools. “The more that is communicated to the parents, the better the team will work and the more successful the students and both campuses will be.”

At Brown Middle, principal Corina Favela themed her meeting “Lemonade with the Principal” – setting up lemons and lemonade as her backdrop and asking parents to share recipes with lemons to keep the meeting light before getting into business.

“The Tuesday afternoon Lemonade with the Principal is one way to connect with our parents in a fun and casual way and answer questions they may have,” Favela said. “COVID-19 is a sour lemon, but we can’t let it stop our drive to provide our Brown Bulldogs with a quality education.  Through collaborative efforts with all stakeholders, we can turn this lemon into sweet lemonade.”

At Armendariz Middle and the Young Women’s Academy, bonus sessions with themes such as “Coffee with the Principal” such as “Baking with Parents,” “Picasso with Parents” and “Pizza with Parents” are held in addition to “Coffee with the Principal” to keep families engaged with their schools.

“We wanted to host some fun ‘stress-free’ sessions to help parents as we’re all in quarantine in addition to our ‘Coffee with the Principal’ sessions. This allows our students to have fun with us and their families,” principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros said.

Question and answer sessions are the biggest part of the virtual meetings as parents seek answers and reassurance.

“It’s extremely important to connect with parents and make ourselves available to answer questions or address any concerns they may have during this time,” Ontiveros said. “Our students learning process has changed overnight. We know our parents are going to have questions and we knew we had to provide an avenue to keep an open line of communication with them.”

Story by Reneé De Santos – EPISD