Through my 20-year education career and as a father of four children, I have come to believe that there is no substitute for a parent-educator partnership in a child’s education. This is not to say that a student who doesn’t have an engaged parent is not going to make it. Indeed, I have seen examples of students who overcome this reality and succeed. It is just a fact, however, that when parents and educators are on the same page mutually reinforcing values, behavioral expectations, and study habits, students are the winners.
Parent engagement at Cristo Rey Jesuit comes in a variety of forms. While we are always seeking to develop new ways of engaging parents in their child’s learning, we are blessed to experience the ways parents are currently active and supportive of our school. Recently, our Commons was filled with parents and siblings of our students to celebrate our students who achieved honor roll status for the first semester. It was wonderful to see the robust family turnout at the celebration. We also celebrated Catholic Schools Week at the end of January. I always look forward to the potluck lunch provided by parents for our staff members. We have some amazing parent cooks who provide fresh, homemade cultural dishes as well as tasty desserts. Lastly, parents of some of our students have stepped up in important ways to help the school. When we were looking for someone to help us with plantings and landscaping to beautify the front entrance when we installed our St. Ignatius statue, we turned to our parents to assist us. We also have parents who work in our business office, our front office, and drive students to work in our vans. Parents also help us to recruit students, and they’ve provided feedback for our strategic plan. Our parents support us in very important ways.
We are fortunate to work with parents who support the beliefs and values of our school and their child’s education. Our Catholic and Jesuit tradition teaches that parents are the first teachers of their children and they choose our school so we may reinforce and develop their children in ways that reflect our shared values and beliefs. A few years ago, I interviewed a parent who had applied to work at Cristo Rey Jesuit and asked her about her experience as a parent so far. She said, “Cristo Rey is a blessing to me and my family.” I’ve always remembered the grateful words of that parent because I am as grateful to parents for their support as they are for the education and opportunities we provide their children. While our students’ efforts are central to a successful educational experience at Cristo Rey Jesuit, we’ll continue to cultivate relationships with our parents to strengthen our community, and ultimately, ensure a partnership working in tandem to guide and develop our young people to reach their full potential.