Back to School Night

Richmond’s elementary schools host parents at back-to-school night

on September 11, 2015

Coronado Elementary School teacher April Scott had a full classroom Thursday night, but the desks weren’t filled with her typical fourth grade students. Scott was answering questions from parents.

Elementary schools across the West Contra Costa Unified School District opened their doors Thursday, Sept. 10, for back-to-school night, inviting parents to meet educators and learn what the school year holds.

The annual event came a day after statewide test results were released showing Richmond schools performing poorly. Some parents touched on these test results and new “Common Core” teaching practices, but none of these big topics were on the agenda Thursday night.

Scott, a longtime educator who recently started teaching at Coronado, said the main goal of back-to-school night is to make sure teachers and parents share “the same language as far as expectations.”

“It’s that first introduction to parents and families,” she said.

Todd Groves, president of the district Board of Education, said it’s important for everyone to meet.

“It’s a big opportunity for parents to really understand what their child’s teacher is striving for, how they can support it, how they can participate meaningfully with school,” Groves said.

Coronado students, with their family members in tow, acted like tour guides, leading the way to classrooms or playgrounds. The school, which enrolled about 430 students at last count, has a new K-6 facility, and some parents were seeing it for the first time since it opened in August.

Gerardo Orozco and Noehmi Martinez both attended Coronado elementary while growing up. Now their daughter is in Scott’s class. At back-to-school night, Orozco and Martinez said they were impressed by the upgraded building.

“Coming back to having our kids in a new school with everything new… it’s pretty good, actually,” Martinez said. “It’s rewarding because you see how through the years everything transitions into something better.”

Coronado’s old campus was demolished in 2012. Students were transferred to portable units until the new campus was completed.

Orozco said coming to this event isn’t just about hearing from the teachers, it’s also about the children knowing their parents care.

“Just to see their eyes light up when they see you—that means a lot to me,” Orozco said.

At Washington Elementary, which is located about two miles from Coronado in Point Richmond, teachers and parents were winding down the evening with a catered dinner. Washington is about the same size as Coronado and teaches students in Spanish-English immersion classes.

Tyrone Weems, a sixth-grade teacher and Washington Elementary parent, said it’s important that parents see the classrooms, and the open house gives teachers a good time to gather volunteers and encourage involvement.

“It’s crucial,” Weems said. “You wouldn’t miss your opening day at work… This is by far the greatest opening day you will need to see the person who is governing your child for a third of the day.”

Richmond middle schools will have back-to-school night on Thursday, Sept. 17. High schools will follow on Thursday, Sept. 24.

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