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New venture at WES aims to increase parental involvement

RUSSELLVILLE – In an effort to increase parental involvement at their school, administrators at West Elementary have developed a new group that will serve to bridge the gap between the classroom and home. 

WES principal Deanna Hollimon said the school's Parent Teacher Partnership held its first activity last Friday, a homemade ice cream party for faculty and staff to celebrate last year's successes and let the teachers know how much they are appreciated. 

"We received feedback from some of our stakeholders that a group like this could be useful at our school, and we agreed," Hollimon said. "This event was a great way to introduce the group to our faculty and staff."

Hollimon said the PTP will consist of four officers–two parents and two teachers–who will work with other parents to plan events and activities throughout the year that will get parents more involved at the school and with their child's learning. 

Laura Horton, who has a child in kindergarten at WES, will serve as the PTP president, and she said she's excited about what this group can accomplish in the upcoming school year. 

"The PTP will be an organization to encourage interaction between family and school, serve as a source of support, and work with teachers, staff, and the community to improve our children’s educational experience," Horton said.  "We hope to provide more family-centered activities. We have several ideas on different things we want to do each month."

WES kindergarten teacher Channing Wright will serve as the secretary for the PTP. She said the group has the potential to have a huge impact on student learning. 

"Parents are a vital part of their child's education," Wright said. "I believe by having parents involved in various ways, it increases student motivation while also providing a chance for parents and their children to work together. Being a part of your child's education is a special opportunity. They are only little once." 

Wright said from a teacher's standpoint, the group will serve as a great tool for effective communication. 

"I think this group will allow parents to find their niche and where they can plug in," Wright said. "Our parents have many different talents, skills and strengths, and this group will be able to give parents a chance to put all of that to good use in a way that helps the students, the teachers and the school in fun and educational ways."

Horton said information about the group will be discussed at the Kindergarten Parent Open House, and a registration sheet will be sent home with first and second grade students. 

"We encourage families to sign up and share any ideas they may have for the Parent Teacher Partnership and ways we can invest in WES and become more involved with our students and teachers," she said.  

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