Summit teaches parents about educational resources for their children
COLUMBIA - Parents gathered on Saturday to discuss ways to help who they're most passionate about—their children. The Multicultural Achievement Committee, or MAC, program hosted the Parents of Influence Summit so experts can teach parents about resources available to them in the Columbia Public School District that can improve their children's academic and personal lives.
Panelists said resources are available for students to succeed, but they aren't widely known. Some of the resources the experts explained were the A Plus Program, Parents as Teachers, Worley Street Roundtable, Columbia Area Career Center, Sylvan Learning and college-level course offerings for high school students.
Kevin Brown, assistant superintendent of secondary education at Columbia Public Schools, spoke about his research on college and career readiness. He said from 30 to 60 percent of college freshmen have to take remedial courses, which eligible students have to take even though they do not count toward a degree. Brown said it's vital for high school students to improve their math and English ACT scores so they can avoid that extra expense.
The MAC Scholars Program provides students with free ACT prep, college tours, essay help and more.
Nicolle Adair, MAC Scholars Program Assistant District Coordinator, said Saturday's summit was also so parents can share their parenting struggles and realize they're not alone in facing those challenges.
"Parents enjoy being around other parents, and I think that is really what instigates and sparks conversation is that there are other, they recognize that they're not alone," Adair said. "I think that when you're trying to determine what's the best thing to do academically for your child in order for them to be successful, it can be isolating and feel very lonely, so what I enjoy the most is seeing our parents being able to talk to each other."
Patty Rodriguez said she was almost brought to tears telling other parents about the frustration she feels trying to motivate one of her sons to do well in school. Rodriguez said her son is capable of doing the work, but doesn't apply himself. MAC District Coordinator Annelle Whitt told her she had a similar situation raising her two boys.
"I wanted to pull my hair out," Whitt said when she explained how boys don't fully develop until their 20s.
Rodriguez said it was reassuring to hear other parents' stories.
"Some of the things that we're going through are right on line with what some of the others have experienced, and everything has come out OK for their children in the long run," she said.
Whitt said sometimes an issue might be that the child and the teacher don't get along. "It's like water and oil," she said. She added it's important for kids to stay in classes with teachers they don't like because they might have bosses they don't like when they are older.
Other speakers at the summit included Lange Middle School Principal Bernard Solomon and CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman.
Adair said the annual event aims to break down barriers between parents and community resources, so parents can feel comfortable approaching someone like the superintendent.
Anyone interested in joining MAC can go to its website to find and connect with the program sponsor for his or her child's school. Every middle and high school in Columbia has a sponsor.