Judy Wilson-RoseMs. Wilson-Rose is the proud parent of three children who attend CPS schools. She is currently the RTC PAC Chairperson, and her eagerness to pass on her knowledge to other parents for the benefit of the community makes her stand out. She has graciously answered our questions below.1. What CPS schools do / did your children attend?I have a Senior at RTC Medical Prep HS, and a set of Freshmen twins attending Lindblom Math & Science HS2. What position do you hold as a parent volunteer?Currently, I'm the RTC PAC Chairperson3. Why did you decide to get involved as a parent/ What are the benefits of being a parent volunteer?I decided that I wanted to learn more about PAC at RTC and the school itself. so I started attending a few PAC Meetings. I originally didn't volunteer and was somewhat content just attending the PAC Meetings. However, I was "volunteered" by one of the other active Parents to be Chairperson during the Annual Organizational PAC Meeting. Once I got over the shock and went over in my mind a thousand reasons of why I shouldn't accept, knowing that deep down I did want to learn more, I accepted the position as PAC Chairperson, and it has been truly a remarkable learning experience. I find this role quite beneficial as I'm able to be a liaison between the parents and our school by learning more about how our school operates, meeting some of the very caring teachers and wonderful staff, and learning how important an active PAC is to a school. Not all parents are able to attend the monthly PAC meetings, but they are still entitled to know what's available to them and Parent Programs that are offered for them as Parents of CPS students. I feel it is my duty to obtain and share this knowledge with them. I've learned so much in such a short period of time about CPS schools and how they operate, and more importantly how we as Parents have an active voice with our children's school.4. What do you hope to change at CPS through parent volunteering?I wouldn't say necessarily say "change". I would like to think of it more as bringing awareness to Parents of their rights so they too can take advantage of the opportunities that CPS is offering to assist them in their everyday lives through Parent University, a variety of Parent driven conferences and workshops, and a monthly general meeting with parent bonding to be updated on what's happening within the school they've entrusted their children to attend every school year.
Empowering Parents to Be Involved in the Education ProcessMs. Swanson is the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Chair at Curtis Elementary School. She works hard to keep the parents involved and engaged in the educational process. Ms. Swanson is also a dedicated mother of two sons and one granddaughter.1. How long have you been the PAC Chair at Curtis? Why did you initially get involved?I’ve been the chair for 3 years. I first got into it through my kids, but they’re grown now.2. Tell me about your role as the PAC Chair.We inform parents about what CPS is doing and host workshops that teach parents about the different ways the students are learning. Parents are able to understand what their child is doing in the classroom, and possibly help them with their homework.3. What is your favorite part of being the PAC Chair?To help educate the parents and surrounding community of Curtis.4. What are some of the priorities your PAC is working on right now?Right now, we are focusing on getting parents that are currently unemployed matched with job opportunities. We are also creating our CIWP, which is a document that covers general information about students at CPS.5. Is there anything else you want parents and community members to know about the work you and your PAC are doing at Curtis Elementary?Yes, every Christmas and December we host a coat and can drive, where we take donations of winter clothes, canned goods, and frozen turkeys that we give to needy families in the area.
Two Advocates Making a Difference in Englewood
Meet two active parent advocates in two different schools in the Englewood community, Ms. Darlene O'Banner and Ms. Denise Dyer.
Ms. O’Banner and Ms. Dyer are the Chair and Vice Chair of the Englewood Community Action Committee (CAC). They are both extremely involved with CPS and spend a lot of their time advocating on behalf of CPS parents. Not only do these two women help their schools but they are fierce advocates for their neighborhood.
Ms. Dyer is the guardian of three grandchildren, two of whom go to Nicholson STEM Middle School, and will be attending Simeon Career Academy for high school. Her grandson is a Senior and is a diverse learner with an IEP plan. Being responsible for a diverse learner prompted Ms. Dyer to learn more about IEP plans and the resources that CPS offered. Eventually, Ms. Dyer became an Illinois IEP surrogate parent, which means that she is able to sit in and collect information about a student with an IEP plan if his/her parents are not able to. Diverse learner support and more broadly, education, has become her passion.
Ms. O’Banner is heavily involved in early childhood education. She played an instrumental role in establishing full day pre-k at Earle Elementary School because she saw a need in her community. She also works with a program that helps students in temporary living situations by collecting school supplies, working with partners to find permanent housing and more. She is passionate about this program because as a parent, grandparent, and great grandparent, she feels for the affected students deeply.
Ms. O’Banner and Ms. Dyer hope the Englewood CAC can work on increasing communication between CPS staff and the families of the students who attend those schools. In addition, Ms. Dyer stated she hopes the CAC can ensure that the highest qualified teachers will be staffed in their school communities. She sees no reason why schools in Englewood can’t be Level 1, and include a rigorous curriculum for students.
Invested in Parent UniversityThis month's spotlight shines a light on Bridget Harris, who attends the Rogers Park Parent University at Sullivan High School. Responses have been edited for clarity.1. How did you decide to attend the Parent University at CPS?I have a son who is in eighth grade and is a CPS student. I have always been an involved parent and I think it's important that we as parents stay on top of things and know what our kids are doing, especially with technology and things of that nature changing so fast.2. What has been your experience been with the Parent University? What do you like most about it?Oh my god I love everything, A-Z! We had a cooking class taught by students of Sullivan High School, and it was very very fun, very interesting. It was good!3. We hear you love the Zumba class! What is your favorite part of the class?My favorite part of the Zumba class was that there was so much diversity. And I was also able to lose 25 pounds! It has always been a goal for me to be in shape, be healthy, and lose weight. It’s so exciting!4. What advice do you have for someone considering taking a class at a CPS parent University?I say go for it. There is a range of classes, workshops, and we even have a computer lab. Cindra Hart, who is our coordinator there, in addition to other core parents from different CPS schools all have a good time. I’m really invested, and I only started in January 2018!
Carolyn Lewis on the Life of a PAC ChairThis month we are shining a spotlight on Carolyn Lewis, the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Chair at Medgar Evers School. She keeps the parents involved and engaged in the educational process.How many children do you have enrolled in CPS, and what schools do they go to?I am a proud mother of 4 girls with 3 of the children left in CPS. I have a set of twins Ka'Mari & Kamaria' that go to Medgar Evers Performing & Fine Arts and Ta'Leeya goes to DeVry University Advantage Academy (DUAA).Why did you decide to be involved in the Parent Advisory Council?Initially, my sister in law, Beverly Weldon, asked me to just come out and support her because she was the chairperson. I then became the secretary. Now, years later I hold the Chairperson title. I realized parents have a voice in school matters, especially when it comes to their children. Now I have become more of an advocate for the parents. Parents sometimes need more knowledge and education on becoming better parents, better listeners, better visionaries. We can't help our children if we don't have the tools ourselves. With that being said, I am now a Parent Ambassador for the Quality of Life Plan Education and Youth Taskforce of Teamwork Englewood.What are your roles and responsibilities as Parent Advisory Council Chair at Medgar Evers School?My role is to be the eyes and ears for parents. We understand that parents have to work, so everyone can't make every meeting. But I go and bring back the information that was given for the parents. I help our PAC host workshops and bring in speakers that match parents interests and needs. Whatever questions parents have we make sure we find the solutions. I also encourage other parents to become more involved.What are the benefits of volunteering at Medgar Evers School?The benefits of volunteering at Medgar Evers are to help the teachers, staff, and Principal in any way possible or needed. Also, it helps to put the parents back in the schools and bridge the gaps and allows the parents and staff to work together. Plus, it shows the students that everyone is working together for their good. It shows unity with all to help the child succeed.What advice would you give other parents looking to volunteer at CPS schools?The advice I would to other parents is go for it! You're needed in the schools. You may be that one person that could connect to that one child that's hard to reach and has no one to talk to. Your smile can help to calm others down, so even if you just be a door greeter. If you can only make time for an hour out of your schedule because you're working, that's fine. It doesn't matter how much time you put in, just put in quality time.
Chausii RobersonChausii Roberson, also known as the Chicago Coupon Diva, tells us a little bit about her love of coupons and how she became involved in teaching a financial literacy class at Bronzeville Parent University. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.How many children do you have in CPS and what schools do they go to?I have one child currently attending Walter H. Dyett School of the Arts. Three of my children have also previously graduated from CPS schools (Carnegie and Kenwood). My child who is currently attending Dyett has an expected graduation date of 2020.How did you become the Chicago Coupon Diva?I learned about couponing from my great grandmother. She was always looking for ways to save a few extra dollars and stock up on household products. I became obsessed with seeing her stockpile rise. She and I would go to the store and she would show me how to coupon [and give me tips]. It wasn't until 2009 that I became an extreme couponer. I wanted to save as much money as possible to be able to care for my children well. There was nothing better to me than knowing that I could have all of the food, personal care items, and household items that I needed without having to use every dime I had.Why did you volunteer to teach the "Extreme Couponing Parent Workshop" at the Bronzeville Parent University?I wanted to teach this class as a financial literacy workshop. I knew that teaching this course would help parents to save money by using coupons.What other classes have you attended at the Bronzeville Parent University at Dyett HS?I have attended several classes at the Bronzeville Parent University - robotic parent style, coding, creative writing, and empowering the parent workshop social media, and teen domestic violence. I have also attended more PAC meetings than I can count.What is your favorite thing about the Bronzeville Parent University?My favorite things are that there are plenty of opportunities to learn new [skills] and we are given access to parent and community resources.What tips can you provide other parents on how to successfully leverage their own skills?I would tell parents to start by owning the fact that they have skills and something to offer each other. Also, I would advise a parent to always be a learner. When you are a learner, you will be given opportunities to sharpen and increase the skills that you have. It is important to use your skills to the fullest capacity.
Recap: Celebrating Black History MonthIn honor of Black History Month, we recognize a few local parent advocates who are heroes in our schools. They are active participants in making our schools the best they can be for our students.Darlene O'Banner, Earle STEM AcademyMary Ann Alexander, Michele Clark HSVictor Bloomberg, Jensen Elementary Scholastic AcademyTom Gray, Chicago Military AcademyRead more about each person at https://goo.gl/FSKDJH.
Sharing Knowledge with Other Parents to Help Children SucceedSharon Baker is an active participant in her students' education. She is a Parent Advisory Council Chair and volunteer. She attends the Pullman and Bronzeville Parent University Campuses.Q: Why do you come to Parent University? What do you like about it?A: I come to get trained. As the PAC Chair at Dunbar, I like to bring back the information to the parents because our main goal is to help our children succeed. In order to do that, we have to be better trained. I’m not saying, everyone. Some people are very well qualified, but still, we are here to learn and to educate our kids.Q: Have you taken any classes or attended events at Parent University?A: I attended classes last year here [at the Bronzeville Campus]. It was a math class and I need that.Q: Does it help your children?A: I would have to say yes, it does because I have an 8th grader and the math that we used was just math. But now, they have all kinds and the calculations do help with it. I’m learning the decimal points and all kinds of ways. It didn’t use to be like this new math and all these tests they have to take. It’s awesome and I’m trying to get more training in that.Q: What’s your home school?A: Dunbar High School. I have several schools: Medgar Evers, Longwood and Wendell Phillips.Q: You volunteer you said?A: I volunteer at Dunbar High School. I volunteer at Medgar Evers and when needed, at Longwood. They will call me if they need me and I will come to that school.Q: What kind of stuff do you do when you volunteer?A: I volunteer at Dunbar. I work in the office and help the clerk and answer the phone.I also help the counselor if he needs anything to be done. I also work in a classroom when a teacher needs to step out for a minute I will come in. Also, I’m there, if needed. If they need me to give a ride to the hospital and wait on the parents, I will do all that. Anything that will help a child.Q: What was your favorite part of the open house at Bronzeville Parent University today?A: I’ve seen so many people I haven’t seen in so long. [Dr. Shawn Jackson}, Kareem [Pender] is here, Pamela Price, who is an awesome lady. Marcus is Pittman is here. I can just keep naming and naming. Ms. Sanders was here. And also, the parents. I have seen so many parents here. And that’s what I call an awesome thing. I think we are moving much better and stronger and they are still here and it’s 12 o’clock. The workshop was very educational and the vendors are dynamite. They are awesome. You all did an excellent job.