Re: DSM: Non-member submission from [FChickering <fran.chickering@unh.edu>] (fwd)


Roberta Glass (rglass@hsph.harvard.edu)
Mon, 28 Dec 1998 10:39:07 -0500


Scott Gray wrote:

> From: FChickering <fran.chickering@unh.edu>

> Is there a sense of community beyond the school that
> includes parents? Do parents know one another? I don't
> suppose there are bake sales or barn raisings...or
> are there?
> Wondering...
> Fran

As a SVS parent I have met other parents through car-pools, school
events, and exchanging children for visits. The first day of school
every year a number of the parents of the younger children spend the
first few hours of the day greeting new parents, something I found very
helpful the first year. Birthday parties also double as gatherings for
parents because the kids live so far apart that no one wants to drive
two round trips. There are numerous evening events at the school that
allow parents to talk about the school's philosophy and get validation
for a choice for which we are constantly questioned and criticized. And
of course there is the annual end-of-year picnic at which the entire
community comes together for food, conversation, softball, and whatever
else is happening. It can be hard for parents if they live at a
distance from the school, but the community is there.

SVS is well established and is careful in managing its finances, so
there is no need for large fundraising efforts or barn raisings at the
moment, but I am sure the support would be there should they ask. I am
quite happy not to be asked to do the small-scale fund raising that most
schools do several times a year. One very nice thing about SVS is that
the parents are not constantly being hit with demands to oversee their
children selling stuff to family and neighbors. When a school
corporation does set out to raise money they offer products they have
made themselves and there is no pressure on parents to participate.

We moved closer to the school after four years of commuting, and found
the parents of SVS to be a great resource in getting settled in a new
area. We found a soccer coach for our son and an electrician among the
school's parents. And the teens we met through car-pools have been
great about coming by and lending a hand with house construction and
repair projects. Last year two families hosted a teen whose parents
were working in Germany so that he could spend a year at SVS. Both
families extended the offer without knowing the child or his family.

In general, the parents of children who enter the school at a younger
age are more involved with their children and more likely to show up at
school events. The families whose children enter the school at a later
age are often less involved. For instance, when we contact the parents
of teens about carpooling they are happy to have us drive their kids but
refuse to help drive or even chip in a little gas money.
There is clearly a lot of tension about the child attending the school
at all, and little willingness to go beyond paying tuition. We
transported five teens for a school year and never met the parents of
four of them face to face. The fifth parent had spent the previous
school year driving the group both ways every day without help of any
kind from the parents - not even a phone call of thanks. But on the
other hand, the teens themselves are a strong community that offers
support to those with sub-optimal parental involvement.



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