Positions are the first of their type in Westchester County schools
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (Nov. 21, 2017) —- With a plan to forge even stronger relationships and create deeper ties between parents, educators and all district stakeholders to ultimately assist in student success, each school in the Mount Vernon School City District now has a parent liaison on its staff.
While New York City schools have parent liaison positions, the role is the first of its kind in any Westchester County school district. Each parent liaison will cover two schools, ensuring that all 16 buildings have a dedicated staff person for assistance.
“Mount Vernon is a trailblazer,” said Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy, Mount Vernon Assistant Superintendent for School Improvement.
The School District’s Office of School Improvement took the lead in creating the new positions. It used a state grant to hire Scholastic Corp. to train the parent Liaisons for their new roles. Scholastic Corp. uses a research-based model called the Family Engagement Building Framework. This model was created by Karen Mapp, Senior Lecturer from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
An outcome of Mapp’s model is that districts and schools will cultivate and sustain active and effective partnerships with families, strengthening one of the identified essential supports — parent and community ties — needed for school improvement.
Secondly, Mapp’s model intends for families to be actively engaged in their children’s education and school improvement.
“The training taught them how to interface with the community and diffuse tough situations,” said Bennett-Conroy. “Parents must work together with teachers and principals, and the collaboration starts with the superintendent on down. We’re looking to create relationships and equip parents with tools to deal with their own children. We don’t want them to be afraid to reach out for support.”
Bennett-Conroy said parent liaisons are there to assist and advocate for what a child may need. Parents will see them at workshops, attending Parent University, reaching out to help with securing tutoring services, if needed, and working with different community agencies to see how they can collaborate on services, if required.
“And, they are looking out for parents,” she added. “We want to create a balance between parents and educators to make sure their children get the best possible education.”
Frances-Ann Lightsy, Executive Consultant for Scholastic and retired Principal of Grimes Elementary School agreed with Bennett-Conroy sentiments.
“Parents are hesitant to participate in their child’s education because they don’t know what they bring to the table,” said Lightsy. “We value parents’ talents, and we want to find an integral and important role for parents to have to help with the success of their student. We want to help them to better understand. And, we want to teach parents in terms they can understand.”
Sandra O’Connor, a parent liaison for Mount Vernon High School and Lincoln Elementary School, felt the training each liaison was given will help to ensure their success.
“This gives us insight about the relationship between a parent and their children’s school,” said O’Connor. “It’s a beautiful thing to witness school and community members embracing the change. If we can bridge the gap between child and community and change perceptions at young ages, this will help students in their future success. We’re looking to help by providing an open pathway between parents and schools. Some parents don’t know how to be involved or that they should be. They need to be present and involved. Then, their child will be involved. Passion breeds passion.”
Mount Vernon City School District parent liaisons are:
Shari Alleyne resident of Mount Vernon, and holds a Master’s Degree in Education. She is the parent liaison for Thornton and Mandela High Schools.
Rita James resident of Mount Vernon. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She is the parent liaison for Parker and Williams Elementary Schools.
Corrine Lewack resident of Mount Vernon. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from SUNY Purchase. She is the parent liaison for Mount Vernon High School and Rebecca Turner Elementary School.
Jaquetta Jenkins resident of Mount Vernon who has been an active PTA member and Girl Scout leader. She is the parent liaison for Traphagen and Grimes Elementary Schools.
Aleisha McDowell resident of Mount Vernon and holds a degree in social work. She is the parent liaison for A.B. Davis and Benjamin Turner Middle Schools.
Sandra O’Connor resident of Mount Vernon. She has a Business background in Hospitality. She has been actively involved in Pennington Elementary’s PTA for the past eight years. She is the parent liaison for Pennington and Lincoln Elementary Schools.
Kizhaya Roberts resident of Mount Vernon and holds a master’s degree in education. She is the parent liaison for Holmes and Graham elementary schools.
Nicole Russo resident of Mount Vernon. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Mercy College. She is the parent liaison for Columbus and Hamilton elementary schools.
About Mount Vernon City School District
With more than 8,000 students in 16 schools, the Mount Vernon City School District is committed to providing a quality education to its children as well as developing programs that meet the diverse academic and social needs of its students.