Parent Academy teaches about Internet safety, healthy cooking

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS — Parents were the students Wednesday evening at A.L. Brown High School during the launch of the Kannapolis City school system’s Parent Academy.
The first one-hour session of the new program focused on Internet safety, a topic Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Morris said is in demand.
“We felt like that was something that just kept coming up,” she said.
Morris said the district decided to start the Parent Academy after a suggestion from the strategic planning team’s student achievement committee.
“They were trying to come up with ways to get more parent involvement,” she said.
The program is modeled after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system’s Parent University.
“I actually got to be part of the district’s accreditation assessment team for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and while going out and interviewing the parents they kept saying how much they liked the Parent University,” Morris said.
Kannapolis school officials visited Mecklenburg County to see how the Parent University operated and Morris put together a team to make it happen in Kannapolis.
The group got feedback from parents and teachers about which topics parents would be interested in. Principals from all of the district’s schools also brainstormed areas of interest.
Topics for upcoming classes include cyberbullying, parenting approaches and how to cook healthy meals on a budget.
Morris said the district hopes to add additional sessions about the ACT college admission test and financial planning.
“We tried to start out simple, but it’s growing every day,” she said. “We want to have some positive interaction with our parents by letting them come into the school for the sessions.”
At the end of each session parents will be given a survey to fill out about their experience.
“We want to find out if the sessions were beneficial for them so we can make adjustments in the future” Morris said.
The parents who attended Tuesday’s session said the topic of Internet safety was very relevant.
“I came because my son is just starting middle school and he is getting more into the Internet and his iPod,” Stephanie Martin said. “I know a lot of stuff, but I figured there might be something that I don’t know that I could find out.”
Martin said the information Beth Simri, technology facilitator at Kannapolis Middle, shared will help her better monitor her son’s Internet use.
“It made me think a lot about things I already knew, but probably wasn’t really concentrating on.”
Summer Rogers said although her son is only in kindergarten at Jackson Park Elementary, she attended Tuesday’s session in order to look to the future.
“I was just curious,” she said. “And it doesn’t hurt to be more educated.”
Christy Parker, a third-grade teacher at Shady Brook Elementary, said her daughter is “always on the Internet.”
“I want to make sure I know everything that I need to know,” she said.
Parker said she also plans to share the knowledge she gained during the session with the parents of her students.
“I want to make sure that I’m enforcing all that they teach here in the classroom as well,” she said.
Denise Bhagwandeen said when she received a letter about Parent Academy she jumped at the chance to sign up.
“My daughters go to Forest Park and both of them are always on the computer, so I decided to come see if I could learn something new,” she said.
Bhagwandeen said she plans to be back for more classes.
“I think I’m already signed up for all of them,” she said. “I think it’s a great ideas because it gives you an opportunity to come meet parents from other schools and also learn something that you didn’t know before.”
Parker said she’s excited the district is getting feedback from parents about what sessions to offer down the road.
“The system is listening and following through with that,” she said.
The school system is providing on-site child care through the high school’s child development classes for all of those attending the sessions. A Spanish interpreter will also be on hand by request.
“They are making it easy, especially for parents who have small children,” Parker said. “I think it’s a perfect opportunity all the way around all parents.”
Morris said each session is capped at 30 attendees. Parents can register online at or they can call the school their children attend.

Upcoming Parent Academy sessions
Nov. 17 — Take Care of Yourself 
This session will discuss the different approaches to parenting and how those approaches affect a child’s behavior.  Presenters will provide ways to guide children to solving their own problems by providing empathy and “one liner” responses. Target audience is kindergarten through sixth-grade parents
Dec. 8 — Choices & Control
In this session, presenters will sift through roots of common behavior problems in the home and how to give control through choices. They will look at the difference between choices and threats and create new phrases for stating choices you can live with. Target audience is kindergarten through sixth-grade parents.
Jan. 26 — Loving Consequences
Presenters will be discussing ways to delay consequences in order to provide consequences that do all the teaching.  They will discuss how to set limits and how to change the words we use with children to provide meaningful consequences. Target audience is kindergarten through sixth-grade parents
Feb. 9 — Be a “C.O.O.L.” Parent
Presenters will review the three main factors in providing a loving and empathetic home while still staying in control.  They will be addressing Jim Fay’s “C.O.O.L” formula for successful parenting. “Control that is shared, Ownership of the problem, Opportunity for thinking/decision making, and Let empathy and consequences do the teaching.” Target audience is kindergarten through sixth-grade parents
Feb. 21 — How to Cook Healthy on a Budget
This course will teach parents how to cook healthy on a budget for a family of six.  Nutrition will be discussed as well as cost effective ways purchase food for your entire family.  Instructor will also discuss the during the food demonstrations.  Prepared food demos will be raffled off to participants. Target audience is parents of students in all grades.
Note: All classes are held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the A.L. Brown High School STEM Academy room 2006
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.