Park Side School looking to enhance parent-school partnerships

Independent file photo A pair of brothers and their grandma munch on snacks as they wait for the movie to start at the first-ever Family Movie Night last year at Park Side Elementary School. A similar event is scheduled this year, beginning at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26.

MARSHALL — Studies show that students tend to do much better in school when their parents are actively involved in their education — Park Side Elementary School had that in mind when it planned various upcoming events.

Along with a Park Side Family Literacy Night on Monday evening, Park Side will be holding a PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) celebration this morning.

“We do celebrate our great behaviors we have at Park Side,” assistant principal James Gagner said. “We do that once a month. So every month, we try to bring in something special for the kids to engage in.”

Today, the Marshall Fire Department is bringing a couple of firetrucks to Park Side.

“Throughout the month, the students can earn ‘Tiger Tickets’ if they’re caught doing something nice,” Gagner said. “When they earn those tickets, they get to put them in the Tiger Tower in the office. (Today), 45 names will be drawn and they’ll get to do something extra special with the firefighters, though the whole student body will be involved in the celebration.”

PBIS is a nationwide program that seeks to improve social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities and students from underrepresented groups.

The school-wide effort teaches behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject. Since students and staff are expected to maintain those expectations in the classroom as well as on the bus or in the cafeteria and other places on school grounds, they are taught what the specified expectations — whether it’s being respectful or responsible, for example — might look like in all of those locations.

Basically, PBIS is a way for schools to encourage good behavior. The key is to be proactive rather than reactive, so it’s not based on punishments.

“We used PBIS last year, too,” Gagner said. “It promotes good behavior. It works out well. We’ve had good success with it.”

Last March, the Park Side PBIS team held a first-time Family Movie Night, which successfully drew in more than 200 students and parents.

“We started that last year and it turned out really well,” Gagner said. “We’re looking for continued success this year.”

Organizers decided to do the event earlier in the school year this time around. The 2017 Family Movie Night is slated for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 26.

“It’s another opportunity to open up the doors and have students and parents meet new teachers,” Gagner said. “We wanted to do the event earlier — we did it at the end of the year last year — so it will give us an opportunity to do another thing later in the year. It’s fun to come to school off the clock.”

This year’s Family Movie Night features the movie, “Moana.” Pizza, candy, popcorn and water will also be available for purchase — funds help support PBIS activities. Blankets and pillows are allowed.

“You can’t have a movie without popcorn,” Gagner said.

Another event that looks to enhance parent-school partnerships is the Principal’s Coffee and Conversation that Park Side will begin hosting once a month in the school cafeteria. All parents and community members are invited to attend. Principal Darci Love, along with Gagner, will lead the discussions.

“Information will be shared regarding the great things happening at Park Side,” Love said. “It is also an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas about improving student achievement and our school.”

The first Principal’s Coffee and Conversation is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 10., beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Park Side cafeteria.

“It’s just kind of an opportunity, so we can have more casual-type conversations that are not threatening,” Gagner said. “It’s a way to reach out to the families a little more. We really want to increase our parent engagement — even though we think it’s good — so we look at ways to make it easier for parents.”

Gagner said the school especially wants to be sensitive to the needs of families new to the country.

“We want them to have that family atmosphere,” he said. “So the more opportunity you can have for all students and parents the better you can get to that point. We want people to know our doors are open.”