School reaches out to parents through website

Parents used to tell Laura Pasut that they would volunteer at The Good Shepherd Catholic School if only they knew how or where their help was needed.

Pasut, the school council chair, said The Good Shepherd lacked a reliable way to communicate with parents.

Thanks to a Parents Reaching Out grant from the Ministry of Education, parents at The Good Shepherd will now have easy access to the information they need. These grants were created to help overcome obstacles to parent involvement such as language barriers, recent immigration, poverty, newness to Ontario's school system or other factors.

Although The Good Shepherd sends monthly newsletters home with students, parents often don't receive or read them in a timely manner. The school council decided an updated website would give parents the information they need to help their children succeed.

"Many parents use their computers regularly and this provided an additional way to reach these busy parents," Pasut said.

Last school year, the Good Shepherd school council received a $1,000 grant to make the updated website a reality. In addition to hiring a web design consultant, the school council used the funds to hire a consultant to do focus testing to make sure the website provides parents with the information they need in a clear and understandable format.

The Good Shepherd's website now tells parents about their valued role in the school, the many possibilities for involvement and other useful information about The Good Shepherd Catholic School.

"When more parents are aware of the functions and potential opportunities that exist within the school, more will become involved," Pasut said.

This involvement will have a positive impact on student performance.

"When parents are involved, children and their families feel a sense of belonging to the school community," Pasut said. "Children understand that their parents care about their school and what happens there."

Principal Steve Morrow said the website provides an important link between parents and the school, one which is essential to a successful education.

"Using a website, a parent can keep informed as to what events are occurring at the school. They can also see how other parents are contributing to the academic initiatives being undertaken at the school," Morrow said.

When parents are involved at school, they demonstrate to their children that education is a priority, he added.

"This can only increase a child's probability of success."

Apply for a Parents Reaching Out grant online. Applications are due by Friday, October 24, 2008.

Readtips for school councils to engage parents at school.

Learn how you can support your child's education at home.