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Parent Involvement Educators (PIEs) make meaningful
connections with so many important IPS stakeholders, including staff, parents
and community partners. But so often, they fail to get the recognition they
deserve.

 

Each month, we’ll introduce you to one of the PIEs making a
difference in the lives of our students, families and schools.

 

This month, meet Penny Guthrie, PIE at the new Edison School
of the Arts IPS 47.Penny Guthrie
 

How long have you been with the school?

I was at School 70 — Nicolson Performing
Arts Academy — for two years. Now, I’m moving into my third year as we transition
to Edison School of the Arts.

 

How did you end up with the school?

I was trying to decide if I wanted to go back to teaching. I
was substitute teaching and doing long term at School 31 (James A. Garfield),
but it felt like it was time to do something different when I saw the PIE
position open at School 70. I mentioned it to Mr. Tuttle, who was vice
principal at School 31 at the time, and that started the ball rolling. The more
I heard about parent involvement, the more I wanted to do it. I knew I wanted
to work with Mr. Tuttle. We get along great and understand each other pretty
well. It just sort of blossomed from there.

 

What is your education background?

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Teaching the Hearing Impaired
from Ball State University.

 

What about the PIE position interested you?

I like the idea of getting parents more involved, but
working with the community as well. That seemed like a lot of fun to me. Making
a difference is important. I was a child advocate for a long time. I felt like
it was a position that you could make it whatever you put into it. It’s turned
out to be a lot bigger of a position than I expected; I’m busy seven days a
week. We had a goal in mind and wanted to put the performing arts school “on
the map,” and I think we’ve done that a little bit. We have a long way to go
now that we’re starting all over again at Edison.

 

What are some of the milestones and
achievements that help “put the school on the map?”

From what I understand, they had zero parent involvement. We
have parents roaming through the school all the time now. We know who’s going
to be there every week. They come in and help teachers, even just coming in to
make copies for them has been a huge thing. We actually hired one of our
parents to be an office assistant next year. I think some parents didn’t feel
like they could come in, but I think what I’ve learned is to figure out what they
like to do and what they’re good at doing and we find a spot for them. We hope
it gets bigger this year.

 

Also, we’re getting the community more involved. We have a
partnership with a local church and they started coming in once a month doing
whatever we needed; that was a huge help to us.

 

What are some of your
regular responsibilities?

Communications. We’ve made a big effort to communicate in
every way a parent can receive it. Every week, I make a new movie. It’s a
PowerPoint presentation that runs at the school. It’s on our Facebook page and
it’s on our website. That movie tells parents everything that’s happening. I go
about 3–4 weeks out, so they know what’s happening (in advance).

 

We send a newsletter home every week. Wednesday is a big
day. We try to get all of our fliers, invitations and information all on
that day. I do a ConnectEd call every Sunday. It’s “Mrs. Guthrie’s Sunday at 6”
and it explains what’s happening for the week. 
Parents have told me that when it goes to voicemail, they sit down and listen
to it and put everything on their calendar for the week. We do other ConnectEd
text messages and emails. I’ve been working with the ESL department to get
everything translated. Our Spanish-speaking families appreciate that. We try to
do as much as we can.

 

Parents know I’m textable any time; Mr. Tuttle is, too.
(Assistant Principal) Mrs. Burns will be also. 
It’s not unusual to get a text at 6 a.m. asking, “Is this happening
today?”  We try to communicate as much as
possible. That’s been a huge factor in getting more parents in.

 

What are you goals for the upcoming year?

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to get to know this
community. Over the weekend, we were at a leadership retreat. We got to meet
all of the community partners in the area – Lilly, IPL, members of a food
pantry, West Indianapolis Development Corporation, and so many others. We all
got together and learned about this community. I plan to attend upcoming
neighborhood meetings. I’m also on a committee called CAP (Community Advisory
Panel).

 

Once our construction is complete, we want the community to
come and see our school. We think they’ll be pleased with what we have here at
Edison. We’re trying to clean up the grounds and make it a place they’ll like
to come.  We have an awesome soccer field
and tennis court and things we’d like the community to come in and use.
Hopefully more kids in the neighborhood will want to come here.

 

We also want to get more dads involved this year.

 

The new Edison School
of the Arts IPS 47 is located at 777 S. White River Pkwy., West Drive. Once
construction is complete, the public will be invited to tour the facilities.
We’ll have more information on the dates and times once those details become
available.