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Monfredo: Schools Of Learning … Parent Friendly & Transparent

Sunday, August 14, 2016


School is just around the corner and parents need to get involved early on in the learning process. As a former principal and now as a School Committee member many parents ask me what are the qualities of a good elementary school?

Okay, let’s go on a imaginary journey through the Monfredo Academy and see what this school looks like. Perhaps all schools could replicate this model in some fashion.

As you walk  with me into the school for the first time you see signs that welcome parents into the building. The office staff greets you with a warm smile and says,” Thank you for coming into our school and how can I assist you?”  You are then escorted to the newly refurbished  Parent Room. The walls in the room are full of suggestions on how you can assist your child in learning and there are posters everywhere on the walls with  messages …such as  “The most important 20 minutes of the day is reading with your child.”  Other posters that caught our attention were … A house without books is like a room without windows.  ~Heinrich Mann and You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be - I had a mother who read to me. ~Strickland Gillilan

As we continue our walk, every corridor has a positive message about school…”Reading is the Real Magic Carpet” and there is display of books and pictures of students at the school flying on a magic carpet reading a book. Next outside the teachers’ lounge  we see a giant calendar for the month listing all of the activities taking place in the school and a list of teacher and  parent workshops.  Teachers have workshops next week on “Read, Write and Lead”  and there  is also a signup sheet for a monthly “Read aloud Day” for parents to volunteer to read in one of the classrooms.  There is a flyer for this Friday evening’s reading party … PJ reading night – come and meet Harry Potter.   In addition, kindness plays an important role in this school as we see quotes such as  “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain.   More importantly, the school practices what they preach for they go out of their way to make you feel that you are an important part of the school’s success and all the students in the school feel that they are special.

As we continue with our journey we come to the school library.  I see outside of the library a giant bulletin board labeled “Books and Beyond – A Visit  to the sites in Worcester.”  There are eight stations and each student has a marker in the station that the student has moved.  The first station starts off with a drawing of the school and the last one ends up with a picture of the Worcester Historical Museum. Every time a student reads 15 books( k-3)  or 400 pages ( Gr. 4- 6) they move to another station.  A list of prizes are also posted as they move from station to station.  Wow, this is a great way to motivate  students to read and a nice way for the students to familiarize themselves with the sites in Worcester.  The culminating activity of this program is the ‘Gold Medal Ceremony” with the students who completed the program marching as one listens to the Olympic music in the background.

We then go into the library and see students working in small groups.  One student tells us that in 5 minutes their principal will be coming in to read them a story. The librarian interrupts and informs us that the principal encourages home reading every day via the intercom and often quotes from famous literacy works and yes, does make the time during the week to read to the children.  She then tells us that the principal in his daily walk around the building continues to ask the children what they have read or are reading. We are told that the principal is a huge supporter of Books and Beyond and has continued in his mission of changing the culture of the school into a school that emphasizes the love of reading.

Another area of the library has a parent section.  This area includes books on how and what to read to children, information on special programs at the Worcester Public Library, and parent magazines. Parents are encouraged to visit the library and to check out books and bring them home.

Quietly we walk into a few of the classrooms to peek at the activities taking place.  We are greeted with a warm smile by the teachers and we see parents as volunteers working with a few of the children. The teacher continues to interact with the students and goes from desk to desk encouraging and asking questions of each student.  We are in awe at the enthusiasm that the children have shown for learning.

Finally, we head back to the Parent Room and we are greeted by other parents.  We see parents working on projects for the teacher, and other parents putting together a school newspaper. Others are just sitting down and reading the newspaper.  We notice that this month’s newspaper not only has suggestions for parents on helping their child at home but has a principal’s book review column.

A parent comes over to talk to us and talks about how great this school is and how the school offers her meaningful opportunities to engage and contribute to the school.  She went on to say that during her interactions with school staff they always respond to her concerns in a professional manner, whether or not they agree or disagree with her.  Also, the parent mentioned that the principal and staff take the time to call up parents with good news about their child when they do something special and how happy that makes her feel and her child.

Another parent spoke to us about the parent teacher partnership and the good communication that takes place. She went on to say that her child’s teacher makes the time to discuss her child’s learning needs and gives her useful information on how she can assist my child at home.

As we head out the door we smile and think… yes, this is a school that I want my child to attend!

We do have great schools in Worcester and perhaps your child attends one such school as the Monfredo Academy. Write to me and let me know your thoughts and how together we can make all schools parent friendly and have all students develop a love for learning!


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