Dr. Wendy Birhanzel has served more than 18 years in public education and is currently the Superintendent of Harrison School District 2 in Colorado Springs. She shared her passion for improving achievement for all students at an Aug. 22 workshop for parents new to the Parents Challenge program.
“You are your child’s first teacher, their most important teacher,” Dr. Birhanzel told parents gathered for the workshop at the Southeast YMCA in Colorado Springs. “Students with parents who are involved in their education have higher test scores, attend school more regularly, graduate from high school, and go on to post-secondary schools at higher rates than their peers.”
The workshop offered by Dr. Birhanzel is one of 20 advocacy sessions offered throughout the year that empower parents with a range of resources to equip them to take responsibility for the academic and personal achievement of their children.
A key to success that Dr. Birhanzel offered to parents is not to wait for the first scheduled parent-teacher conference, rather she recommended that they reach out to their child’s teacher in the first three weeks of school to schedule a meeting to establish positive lines of communication.
“Do not let teachers or administrators limit the time you have for a parent-teacher conference,” said Dr. Birhanzel. “A parent-teachers conference that limits parents to five minutes is not a meeting, it is a cattle call,” she added.
Dr. Birhanzel said parents should prepare questions with the most important first in order to maximize the value of the meeting with their child’s teacher. It is also important for parents to be open to input on their child’s performance and behavior in the classroom.
For a list of advocacy sessions offered by Parents Challenge visit Parental Empowerment Sessions.