Parents Reaching Out Grants

Horizon Jeunesse School – Mississauga

Conseil scolaire Viamonde
A Rallying Point for French

Parents Reaching Out grants help parents to identify barriers to parent engagement in their own community, and find local solutions to get more parents involved. Parents who are involved in their children's education help to support their children's achievement and well-being.

This video is part of a series that features successful parent engagement projects funded through the Ministry of Education's Parents Reaching Out (PRO) grants.

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Françoise Myner / Principal of Horizon Jeunesse School

The purpose of our project, “School: A Rallying Point for French”, is to create a welcoming environment where our families can take part in extracurricular activities in French. It's a gathering where we have all sorts of activities: for example, Saturday morning we had our students doing art projects, playing sports, we've organized movie nights, we had a morning dedicated to welcoming new families and telling them a little bit about our education system here in Canada.

Nathalie Thibault / Teacher and parent

I really think this has been a real success. We've really seen more and more people come and participate in these activities, and we've truly felt that after all that's been done, people have been coming of their own free will and interest. This may have been something that was missing in our area and that it addressed the parents' need to develop their French culture here.

Marie-Pierre Thiru / Youth worker and parent

I have to say first of all that, as a parent, it's very important to be involved in the School Council to understand the workings of it and to sometimes influence it. The goal of the program was to get all the other parents involved in school life. We have families from the four corners of the world and of Canada, and we thought that it would be a good idea to give them the opportunity to meet each other. We are not an exclusively local school, we have children coming from everywhere around Mississauga, so parents don't naturally meet each other at the school doors, because all children take the bus. So the primary goal of our program was for the families to meet, to make acquaintances, to create a network that would eventually also help them on a professional level, and also for parents to know that they are welcome at the school, which is a meeting-place for everyone and a place where we know that when parents are involved in the school, the students' success is directly linked to their involvement in school life.

Françoise Myner / Principal of Horizon Jeunesse School

This program was important because, the fact is, we live in a minority district. Our families come here and look for a French-speaking environment, and the only place where they'll find French is, for the most part, here at the school.

Seeing as our school is the only place where they can speak French, we don't want parents to decide to continue speaking English at home because they, for example, want their children to become bilingual.

So the opportunity we've given to parents is access to activities in French that allow the whole family to understand the importance of preserving this language. The fact is, as soon as one leaves the school, of course everything happens in English. What we'd like to do is have them see the importance of continuing efforts to promote the French language in their daily life.

Nathalie Thibault / Teacher and parent

I think it's really important for the community to have activities organized by the schools, because our schools are truly the home and the starting point of the French-speaking community. So this involvement that the school encourages allows them to further develop the sense of belonging to the French-speaking community.

Marie-Pierre Thiru / Youth worker and parent

When we started the program, we knew that it would address an important need, and when the activities and the Saturday morning workshops were organized, we saw that we had a huge number participating, even more than we could have imagined. A large majority of families had come out for the workshops, and we saw that the children were having fun, for example, tinkering, and the parents especially appreciated the opportunity to meet up and make connections here at the school.

Françoise Myner / Principal of Horizon Jeunesse School

I think this is an important program, and it was especially important to have some extra funds. Our funds are, after all, limited, and we wouldn't have been able to attract participants on our own. For example, we had to pay the specialist who, among others, helped us put together art classes, and if we hadn't had the funds, we would have had to choose a different kind of activity. But I think that the success of these activities is important for attracting parents, because they're not going to come here, despite their interest, just for a cup of coffee. Really I think that in this way the program is addressing the needs of both children and parents, bringing the children and parents together, with the focus always on being able to speak French. The fact that we had this financial support allowed us to do more activities. We put together more than these two, and more over the course of the year.

To learn more visit: www.ontario.ca/EDUparents