Hundreds of parents filled Lovonya Dejean Middle School for the 8th annual Parents and Partners conference hosted by the West Contra Costa Unified School District on Saturday. Check out the photos below to see a sampling of what happened during the day.
By the district, for the parents
“The whole intent is to bring parents together,” said Community Education Coordinator Marin Trujillo. “The goal is for them to walk away having learned something.”
Trujillo said almost all of the presenters donated their time and the district provided the space.
In order to give parents the opportunity to focus on the conference, Trujillo said the district made sure to provide daycare for their children. Breakfast and lunch were also included.
Keynote speaker: Facing Bullying with Confidence
The keynote speaker of the conference was Erika Leonard, the program manager of Kidpower.org, a nonprofit organization that teaches, “positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities from bullying, sexual abuse, kidnapping, and other violence” according to its website.
She stressed the idea that every human is packed with power — the power to move, make noise, think — and bullying power stems from a person’s choice to use their power in that way.
Leonard said parents can teach their children to use their own power to ask for help, especially when they think they are being bullied.
“Asking for help when you need it is always part of being safe,” she said. “It is always the job of parents and teachers to make sure kids are safe.”
Workshop Round 1: How to have an effective parent-teacher conference one of many choices
In the first week of November parent-teacher conferences will be under way at all of the elementary schools in the district.
Workshop presenter Kathy French, who teaches second grade at King Elementary, said the goal of her workshop “How to have an effective parent-teacher conference” was to front-load parents with information before they go to their conference.
She said the three steps for a successful conference:
- Before the conference talk with your child and ask them how they feel they are doing in school
- During the conference remember that both you and teacher want the same thing: a successful school year
- After the conference don’t be afraid to follow up
Although French didn’t have any parents participate during the first round, she was kind enough to run through it with me, Olinda Elementary school principal Lanre Ajayi and parent and translator Reyna Ortiz. She said 12 parents stopped by for her second session.
One parent’s thoughts
“I think this is a wonderful thing,” said Maryian Yesufu, whose son just started kindergarten at Stege Elementary.
Yesufu sat in on “How to protect your child from gangs and drugs” led by Sgt. Eddie Russell of the Richmond Police Department. She said she was also interested in the workshops about healthy food choices, time and money management, and family acceptance and school inclusivity geared toward the LGBTQ community.
“They’re literally giving us tools to battle external and internal struggles,” she said.
Yesufu said she hopes the district follows up with attendees to assess how the things that were taught at the conference affect their students in the future.
Workshop Round 2: Using arts and crafts to inspire parents to inspire their children
Janice Thompson, who heads up the district’s state preschool and transitional department, led a hands-on session with six parents on how to promote learning in preschoolers with fun, play activities.
Parents decorated pizza boxes with a variety of art materials such as pipe cleaners and colorful balls, which Thompson said her team decided to do because they wanted parents to have a special place to keep materials they can use to lead play activities.
“They can set it on the kitchen table when they get home and have an instant place to put things, ” she said.
Thompson and her team led activities that parents could do with their children in categories such as literacy, emotional and social areas and counting.
Books fly during the Community Resource Fair
West County Reads, a nonprofit organization that promotes family literacy through events such as book drives, gave away up to six free books to parents and children during the Community Resource Fair from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. More than 30 vendors tabled and offered their services to parents.
Founding board member of West County Reads Robin Wilson said this was the third year they have given out books at the conference. This year, she said, WCCUSD library services pitched in and donated books too.