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The City Journals

New parent programs build relationships, teach skills at Sandy Elementary

Feb 10, 2020 02:58PM ● By Julie Slama

Sandy Elementary’s first All Pro Dads meeting in November attracted a cafeteria packed of students and adult males to eat breakfast and discuss contentment. (Photo courtesy of Sandy Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

On a snowy, blustery January morning, mothers packed into Sandy Elementary with their youngsters. It wasn’t to give them a quick kiss as they dropped them off to learn, but to be part of the new Moms Matter program.

“Our big overall goal is parent engagement at Sandy,” Sandy Elementary Community Schools Facilitator Isa Connelly said. “We want to boost our parents from involvement to engagement. It’s a deeper level where they are more involved in their students’ homework, academics, behavior and school life, not just asking them how their day was today.”

Connelly said that when parents are engaged, including volunteering in the classrooms, research shows students do better in school.

“It shows students that parents do care about their behaviors and academics and have a relationship with teachers. It shows adults are supporting teachers and education and communicating more than just when they attend parent-teacher conferences,” she said.

Connelly said school administrators decided one of the best ways to introduce parent engagement is through All Pro Dads and Moms Matter, programs that are successful at nearby Copperview Elementary in Midvale.

In November, the first All Pro Dads was met with tremendous participation, she said.

“There was standing room only, we ran out of donuts — twice. At least 80 dads came. It showed us the community wants to be engaged in their kids’ lives,” Connelly said. “We asked each dad to say why they are proud of his student and the students just beamed. It was a personal moment they had with their kids.”

All Pro Dads is a national program where chapters meet monthly, starting with a breakfast where dads or significant male adult role models are invited to eat breakfast with students and engage in conversations and activities centered on a character-based curriculum.

The All Pro Dads program met in November, and after a short video clip, 80 adult males and students discussed contentment. They will meet next at 7:30 a.m., Monday, Feb. 10 to engage father or male role models and students in the topic of gentleness.

January was the first meeting for Moms Matter, a program begun within Canyons School District where, similarly to All Pro Dads, it begins with mothers or adult female role models being welcome to eat breakfast with their children. However, after breakfast, students go to class while the discussion is adult only, about internet safety and an introduction to the district’s parent connections website.

“We want them to connect with their students, but we also can go over topics that will help them as parents,” Connelly said.

Moms Matter will discuss DYAD reading in March and bully prevention in May. All Pro Dads’ topic for April is forgiveness.

Sandy Elementary is a community school, which focuses on parent engagement, academics, youth development, health and social services, and community partnerships.