As a district parent, I am confident in the education and psycho-social support that our oldest daughter, Grace receives in school. We were fortunate enough for Grace to complete two years of Pre-K at Mile Square Early Learning Center’s Demarest School location, and then for her to move onto kindergarten at Thomas G. Connors Elementary School. Grace is a reader, she is enthusiastic about science, and a budding math whiz. We are almost ten days into the new school year, and I am pleased to report that we have a happy first grader on our hands! Our situation is not unique, every day I hear stories of success from kids and their families throughout the district schools. While the four district elementary schools may differ in size, they adhere to the same curriculum while providing safe, enriching, and supportive environments for our young scholars. When people ask us about Grace’s experience thus far I always make sure to convey how much her school experience has exceeded our expectations, and the environment created by Dr. Johnson, the administrators, teachers and staff is what has made this experience a great one.
When I talk with other families from Connors, the other elementary schools, middle and high school there is enthusiasm for our children’s academic and social experience, but there is one common complaint. Parents do not feel as though communication is a priority for the district. I can think of several examples of how the district communicates well: the improved process/listings for the pre-k lottery, the use of Class Dojo and the weekly Herald come to mind. However that just scratches the surface of the information that needs to be conveyed and often reiterated in several formats to the target audience. Along with my examples of where the district does a great job, I have quite a few examples from just the last few weeks where communications were lacking and left myself, and some others feeling confused and left out. Additionally, from my efforts with the SW Hoboken Parents Alliance I have met many families new to Hoboken who became quickly frustrated while trying to find basic, valid information on our school district. Dr. Johnson has always been willing to speak with these families and answer questions, but many basic questions should be able to be answered without having the Superintendent be the first line of communication.
Processes like communications for large organizations are always a work in progress, but if elected I will advocate for the following. First, a survey to district families on preferred methods of communication, what types of information they need to see, and the frequency with which they would like to receive those communications in either an electronic or hard copy format. Second, small group meetings with families from each school to determine how best to revise the district website with the goal of making key information easier to find. Finally, a school-specific welcome packet for new families entering each district school that provides key information on school contacts, district policies and procedures, school lunch program, and frequently asked questions. These packets would be updated as needed and distributed as soon as placements are made. The welcome packets would also be available in electronic format for families that are already enrolled in each school.
I would love to hear your feedback on how you think the district performs in terms of communications. Please feel free to share your examples, positive and negative, and to share this post and page with your friends. The more families that are brought into this conversation the better #4allourkids #votenovember6 #mcguirkforboardofeducation