On Monday, June 11, our first full-year class of Parent Mentors graduated with stories, certificates, proud moments, and much celebration! The Parent Mentor Program is based on the model developed over decades in Chicago with Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Back in September, parents of students at the Blackstone Innovation School applied for positions as parent mentors, paid jobs that would place ten parents in ten classrooms, mostly Kindergarten and First Grade rooms. Each parent was paired with one teacher and then worked to support the learning and the teaching of the community four mornings a week. Parent Mentors helped students read aloud, practice their letters or numbers, resolved conflicts between young people, and retied shoelaces. In short, the Parent Mentors helped the young people in these ten classrooms feel like and actually be great scholars.
The graduation ceremony included testimony from each Parent Mentor speaking of how they had experienced transformation of themselves and their learning, of the Blackstone School, and Boston Public Schools. Teachers hugged the Parent Mentors and spoke of their own transformation, having felt the power of their partnerships. Together with over 100 other parents mobilized through SSYP's Parent Organizing Project, more than $16.4 million will be added to public education budgets in School Year 2018-2019. And SSYP's mission statement has evolved to recognize the central role of parents: SSYP's mission is to promote equity in education, employment, and opportunity through long-term relationships with young people and their families and communities.
More about this program, the impact on the school, and research that shows how it helps to improve the academic skills of students in a future e-news. In the meantime, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Lead Parent Organizer Ariel Branz, Parent Mentor Coordinator Rafaela Polanco, and all ten Parent Mentors!!
By Liz Steinhauser, Senior Director of Youth Programs