More Than 200 Parents Attend Parent University

Check out great coverage of Parent University by the New Haven Register here and by the Yale Daily News here!
Nov. 3, 2012
Abbe Smith
NHPS Director of Communications
Parent University New Haven kicked off Saturday morning with more than 200 public school parents showing up for the daylong series of free workshops at Gateway Community College downtown. The culmination of exciting, new parent engagement efforts launched this fall, Parent University is a support network that will be offering workshops throughout the year at the citywide, neighborhood and school level.
Parent University New Haven is free to NHPS parents and on Saturday offered a wide variety of more than 35 workshop topics including: How to help your child study for exams, planning for college, how to support teenagers, navigating the public school system, reading with your child and fun ways to teach math. Non-academic support workshops will educate parents on how to protect their children from cyber-bullying and abuse. New Haven fathers can sign up for a workshop on how to be a strong male role model for their children.
Modeled on similar Parent Universities in Boston and Philadelphia, New Haven’s Parent University is unique in that workshops not only address how parents can support their kids in school, but also how they can enrich their own lives. Topics include tips for successful job searching, learning a trade, computer literacy for adults, resume writing and starting your own business.
"Parents are our first and most important teachers. Parent engagement is vital to the success of our students and for New Haven School Change,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. “Today's Parent University is part of what will be a broad and sustained effort to engage parents and to provide all families the tools and support they need to help their children succeed."
“Parents want their children to succeed and so do we,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo. “Parent University is a chance for parents to go back into the classroom and learn how they can help their kids get good grades, behave in school and get on the path to college. We want to empower parents.”
Parent University has partnered with New Haven Promise, the college scholarship and support program, as well as other community organizations to show parents all of the resources available to them as they children move through the school system. A workshop by New Haven Promise on planning for college was among the first of the workshops to fill up.
“It is so important that parents know how to access critical resources, like the New Haven Promise scholarship and our support programs,” said New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton. “Parent University gives us a chance to communicate directly with parents about how to plan for college and how to grow college aspirations in their children. We want to equip parents with the tools they need to help students succeed in life.”
Parent University is a part of New Haven’s nationally recognized School Change Initiative, which aims to make New Haven the best urban school district in America by:  raising test scores to at least the state average, reducing the achievement gap; strengthening high school graduation and reducing the high school dropout rate; and assuring every student is academically and financially able to attend college.
According to the National Parent Teacher Association, decades of research show that when parents are involved, students have higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates. Results also show better school attendance, increased motivation, better self-esteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased use of drugs and alcohol and fewer instances of violent behavior. 
The first Parent University is being held at Gateway Community College at its new downtown campus. Gateway partners with New Haven Public Schools on a number of programs, including college-in-high-school courses in some city high schools.
On Saturday, Parent University included free breakfast and lunch, raffle prizes, child care for children ages 3 to 12 at nearby Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School and resources tables with valuable information. The event also featured keynote speaker Karen Mapp, a New Haven native and lecturer on education at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Her research and practice expertise is in the areas of educational leadership and educational partnerships among schools, families, and community members. She is also the co-author of  Beyond the Bake Sale
Local advocacy organization Mothers for Justice led a discussion at the beginning of the day entitled “Community Conversation on the Need for More Affordable Housing Options.” Parents were also offered free bus transportation from locations throughout the city as well as free parking at the Temple Street Garage.
Starting in August of this year, the city of New Haven and the school district partnered with the New Haven Promise college scholarship program, the Boost! initiative and the United Way of Greater New Haven to hold three community canvasses where hundreds of volunteers knocked on the doors of New Haven parents to inform them about important resources available to them and their children.