In Mississippi, Successful Parent Engagement Leads to Leaders in the Community

Posted by Anna McDonald on
Valeria Haley and her sons
Courtesy of MPB

Valeria Haley never expected that participating in a seven-week Parent Academy would result in a job offer, but that’s just what happened when she joined Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB)’s Parent Academy sessions and became an advocate for the parents in local affordable housing apartment complexes.

As part of MPB’s Ready To Learn (RTL) initiative, station staff conducted a seven-week Parent Academy for parents residing in Jackson, Mississippi’s Commonwealth Village and Lincoln Gardens. This was done in partnership with Springboard to Opportunities (STO), a nonprofit that works to connect families living in affordable housing with resources and programs that help them advance themselves in school, work, and life. 

Sessions focused on family literacy, science, career discovery, and meaningful parent engagement. Parents learned tips for improving communication with their child’s teacher, ways to help with homework, how to handle behavioral issues, and how to help their child read on or above grade level. Each parent was also given the assignment to create a vision board and a goal assessment, and children learned about STEM-related careers. Parents and children also spent time engaging with PBS KIDS’ online educational games and activities.

During the Parent Academy sessions, STO was particularly impressed with Haley’s ability to develop a rapport with the other parents, and recognized how these skills could assist the nonprofit with its ongoing recruitment efforts. So, STO hired her on full time to launch the first phase of an initiative to empower parent leaders from the community to help support the long-term work of Ready To Learn in the area.  

Haley was aware of the fact that parents in Commonwealth Village were not reading in the home before their participation in the RTL activities. Thanks to MPB and the RTL initiative, she and other parents are now doing just that and have built up their home libraries with books received during activities. Haley’s story was featured in the Jackson Free Press as she works to support MPB’s recruitment efforts for PBS KIDS® Ready To Learn activities, including Family Creative Learning workshops and summer camps. As a resident, she continues to participate in these programs with her sons, who have seen great increases in their test scores and reading levels.

MPB’s Ready to Learn program is making an impact on local parents’ educational involvement with their children. In addition to Haley’s success story, five other parents who have taken part in MPB’s programs now serve on the Site Council at MPB’s partner elementary school. The Site Council is a group of teachers, parents, and other stakeholders that works with the school principal to develop, review, and evaluate school improvement programs and school budgets.

Learn more about MPB’s Ready to Learn initiative and the great work being done here in this community.



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