By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents of students in Shenandoah County can expect to see signage, videos and presentations on a new initiative this school year: the 'Be There' campaign.
School officials attending the Virginia State School Board Association Conference who saw a presentation on the program felt it was a good fit for the county, according to Kelly Storey, the school division's federal programs coordinator.
"Parents will see banners, posters, handouts and public service announcements, not only in schools, but in their neighborhoods and community," Storey said Wednesday. There will be a focus on the program during the county's back to school nights as well as during PTO meetings throughout the school year, she said.
The signage will be personalized to Shenandoah County, and Storey said video clips will appear on local television stations and will feature local students.
The campaign's goal seems as simple as its name.
"What you really have to do as a parent, as a teacher, is be there," Storey said. "Everyday at home, at school is an opportunity to support our children. Life is a teachable moment."
The campaign helps in coaching parents on how to interact with their children so they are more involved in their school experience -- both on an educational and social level. One of the goals is to improve student achievement through the increased family involvement.
"When parents ask their kids what happened in school that day, their answer is usually 'nothing,'" Storey explained. "This is about getting to know the specifics. What was fun, what was hard, how did the science test go ... it seems simple, but sometimes we forget to dig a little deeper."
Storey recognized that both parents and kids are busy, and as a working parent, she said she has first hand knowledge of wanting to be more involved.
"We're a busy society, but research shows that the most important involvement is just being there," she said.
Teachers also will be a part of the program while kids are at school.
"Each teacher should want to be the one that kids remember," Storey said. "They do so much more than just teaching algebra. They build relationships that give children one more resource for support on many levels."
Storey said the cost for the program is "very minimal," and was actually covered by a federal grant. There was no direct cost to the school division to take on the campaign, she said.
"We're just so excited to start this," Storey said. "It can only get bigger and better with time, and we know there have been plenty of positive results from school systems that have already implemented the program."
For more information on the program, go to www.bethere.org.