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Education: Shareholders help steer junior high school in the right direction

By Carol Rolf

This article was published April 29, 2010 at 2:15 a.m.

— At Cabot Junior High School North, parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members are known collectively as Shareholders.

The stated mission of the Shareholders calls for “maintaining a safe environment, allowing all students to develop proficiency in knowledge, skills and technology to become successful and responsible in a global society.” “Shareholders meet continuously to improve our school,” Principal Georgia Chastain said. “We meet at different times, and not every one of us can attend each and every time. About 200 have come at different times.

Mayors of Cabot, Ward and Austin have also attended.” The shareholders were involved in Family Night on March 9.

“They told the crowd who they were and what they wanted to do,” Chastain said.

“There were six sessions the parents and students could attend at Family Night.” Topics for the sessions included “Benchmark Success”;

“APEX (a computer-based learning program for math and literacy), Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Math”; “Seventh- and Eighth-Grade Literacy”; “Algebra”; “How Exams Are Scored”; and “Clubs and Opportunities.” Door prizes were given during each session.

“We had some really nice door prizes,” Chastain said.

“We gave away laptops, Apple iTouches, Wii stations, TI 84 calculators, and gift cards from several merchants. The kids got to vote on the prizes we would give.” Chastain said a meal was served that night, and babysitting services were provided.

“More than 200 attended,” she said with a smile.

Surveys were distributed asking parents for feedback on this year’s event and what could be done to improve Parent Night 2011. Random responses to, “The best thing about family night” included “To let the parents know what their kids are learning in algebra and teach the parents skills to help our kids to do their homework”; “Getting to learn how to make a higher score on the … test, seeing all of the teachers”; “A lot of information I didn’t know and may not have known otherwise. I also got a chance to meet other parents and teachers”; and “ Useful information, personal contacts with teachers and watching student excitement.”

Chastain, who has been principal at Cabot Junior High School North for five years, said she began Family Night three years ago.

“The first year was very small,” she said. “Only four teachers presented, and 12 people came. Then last year, it got bigger. We had 12 teachers presenting, and 100 to 125 people attended. This year, we had almost 40 teachers presenting, and 200 people attended. It’s growing. We want to make it better every year.”

Chastain also began the Shareholders program three years ago.

“I asked for volunteers,” she said. “The main idea of the program is to try to include as many people as we can for continuous improvement to our school.”

Jennifer Akers, forensics teacher at the junior high school, is one of the shareholders.

“Shareholders are very beneficial to the school,” she said. “It’s a leadership tool for students and parents. They have come up with some fabulous ideas and teaching avenues that we might have missed out on.”

Reading teacher Debora Brown is also a shareholder and a parent.

“Parents want to be involved in their child’s education,” Brown said. “If the school district makes an effort to ask parents to participate, they will step up.”

Three Rivers, Pages 58 on 04/29/2010

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