On September 10, 17 and 24, James A. Garfield School 31 is holding a Parent Leadership University for five parents. The three-hour sessions will take place in the youth center at Southeast Community Services.

Parent volunteers will move beyond making copies or popping popcorn at events. They will be trained to be more effective parent leaders and mentors. Principal Ann Toombs Heiple and Sarah McAfee, Community Coordinator and Parent Involvement Educator, have been working on the idea for two years.
Parents receive a small stipend for participating and child care is offered. They will take a hard look at what their talents and visions are. They will learn about conflict and team-building skills and project planning. When the endeavor is done, they will graduate and have a celebration dinner.

McAfee hopes after this parents will “come up with their own personal goals” for the school and the community. And the parents are excited to take on the challenge. One parent, Sara Helton is looking forward to “better leadership skills” and to the self-exploration. “We get to see what we can become, to look at ourselves and see what we can do better.”

Comments like that are music to the ears of Heiple and McAfee. They hope these parent leaders are just the start. They want these first parents to graduate and go on to help train and inspire other parents to get involved in the school and community as well.