Including Parents in a Child’s Educational Journey
For Principal LaTarsha Green, Marquette Elementary School is more than just a workplace.
“[The school] is really an extension of who I am and who I want to be,” she said. “Right down to every brick and mortar on the building, as well as with each child that walks through the building.”
As a result of her dedication to Marquette, LaTarsha has taken strides to fostering a sense of empowerment inside and outside of her building, focusing particularly on parents, whom she sees as invaluable partners in the field of education.
Marquette itself is located in the Marquette Park neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago and maintains an enrollment of about 1,300 students in grades K-8. LaTarsha has been principal at the school for several years now, in addition to being a proud graduate of the Chicago Public Schools system herself.
When asked what motivates her work, LaTarsha pointed to her experience attending Spelman College in Atlanta. “I didn’t feel prepared for the rigor of college. [This sparked my interest] in equity and access to education,” she said. “I started to understand who I am as a learner and I wanted to pass that on.”
In addition to sharing this love of learning with her students, LaTarsha has worked to involve parents in the educational process as well. Through the support of The Fund’s Summer Design Program, Marquette has launched a series of Saturday Academy workshops on topics including health and wellness, culinary arts, sculpture, pottery, and more, which are aimed at getting parents engaged.
“Parents are vital in a child’s life, so we want to encourage them.” she said. “[We saw] broad accomplishment this year: 23 to 43 parents are enrolled and there are now 150-250 applicants throughout the course of the year. Saturday Academy became a robust part of the school.”
In addition to the Saturday Academy, LaTarsha has worked to implement several other methods of parent engagement within her school, such as a parent mentor program, a whole-school volunteering initiative, and a number of workshops aimed at helping parents stay involved.
Ultimately, LaTarsha believes the success of these endeavors are crucial in bridging the inequality placed on children without strong family involvement in their education.
“[There are] families who don’t know how to advocate for themselves and their children,” she said. “Our main focus has been on educating parents and including them in their child’s educational journey.