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Engaging Parents is Critical to Student Success

Shaping the minds of young children is hard enough for educators, but working with parents can be an additional challenge.

At HCZ, we have a range of parents. Many love us and some are truly heroic. With others, we have to work really hard to keep them engaged in spite of the challenges in their own lives — problems like dealing with substance abuse, domestic violence or just paying their bills each month.

Educators and leaders need to understand we cannot love the children in our classrooms without extending that love to their parents as well.

Even if a parent comes in and curses me out, I am committed to working with them.

I don’t think you can love the kids but disrespect their parents. That belief stems from working at the city’s Administration for Children’s Services for 13 years, where I often met parents at their worse possible moments — can you imagine if any one of us were judged that way?  And it comes from growing up in a family where my mom was a victim of domestic violence who then became a single mom who struggled to raise her kids.

Many of our staff come from Harlem or backgrounds similar to our kids. For many who have already escaped the gravitational pull of poverty, this work is very personal and they can relate to struggling families. And by hiring locally, we expand and deepen this culture of college and success around our children.

My job is to coax out all the joy and love I can from our staff and to make sure we work together to create a beautiful symphony of success. It is truly a labor of love for all of us, administrators, parents and employees alike.

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