DeKalb County Schools Parenting Partners Program held its spring graduation Wednesday evening recognizing individuals throughout various communities for their involvement.

The DeKalb County Parenting Partners Program provides enhanced educational opportunities designed to promote parental involvement, build leadership, confidence and positive leaders in their homes, schools and communities while also overcoming language, economic and work barriers.

“When we started this initiative last year we came up with a slogan, “Be There.” With that we want to remind you to simply be there for your students,” said DeKalb County School System Parental Engagement Specialist Tara Kirby.

In the program, parents participate in a series of 90-minute classes over six weeks, and through these workshops, parents learn skills aimed to build and promote vital contributors to their child’s success.

As communities work to put COVID-19 in the rear mirror, Kirby encourages parents to get involved in their local school.

“I know Fyffe High School for instance is really trying to start their PTO from the parents that have joined this program and I think that's excellent,” she said. “There are so many schools where that has dwindled away, and we need parents involved.”

The spring graduating class saw 70 graduates, an advancement from the 51 graduates of the fall program.

Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Williams took the stage congratulating all participants for their dedication, commitment and involvement in their children and communities.

“It started as a vision a year ago and to see it come full circle is extremely humbling,” said Williams.

Kirby and Williams reinforced the importance of parental involvement, saying they’ve discussed many times the many imprints left on a child and as a parent you're in control of who leaves that imprint and what type it’s going to be.

“We want that to be positive and we want [your children] to all be successful,” said Kirby.

Sharing parent testimonials of their experience during the evening’s program were Savannah Neal of Geraldine, Heath Townson of Ider, Kendy Monroy of Collinsville, Kinsey Hawkins of Sylvania, Melissa Ledbetter of Rainsville and Avery Gipson of Fyffe.

Parents shared sentiments of skills adapted, forward-thinking, networking with other parents and the positive effects of parental involvement.

“I think we need to invest in our communities and this is a way we can do that,” said Townson. “Engagement with staff and faculty, partnering together to make our school a better place.”

Echoing shared experiences, Gipson said the most beneficial takeaway from the program is she has learned to be grateful for the time with her children.

Williams also announced a new addition within 24 hours coming to the program in the form of a mobile parent resource center.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to expand our parenting program,” she said. “Mrs. Kirby and I have worked together with some partnerships and for next year we are getting a school bus that we are going to outfit and move from community to community so parents have a resource center because we know a centralized resource center is not necessarily feasible for all of our parents in our communities.”

Graduates included parents from the Geraldine, Fyffe, Rainsville, Sylvania, Henagar, Ider and Valley Head communities.

DeKalb County Parenting Partners Fall 2020 Graduates are as follows: Maggie Seals, Bridget Blalock, Manda Hawes, Cassie Trotman, Megan Guffey, Megan Gifford, Heather Headrick, Kay Harper, Saswon Dukes, Kinsey Hawkins, Jami Traylor, Dana Greeson, Heath Townson, Tiffany Townson, Marina Yancy, Lesa Threatt, Sara Welden, Ryan Watkins, Tanza Watkins, Adriane Ogle, Russell Head, Cathy Head, Jennifer Manning, Kayla Worthey, Amy Lincoln, Anna Bailey, Suzanne Thomas, Melissa Shoults, Shawna Kuykendal, Donna Camp, Jessica Chester, Heather McSpadden, Jennifer Shores, Brett Johnson, Katerina Bradley, Marilyn Pittman, Kristie Willoughby, Adam Willoughby, Holly Williams, Heather Christenberry, Kristie Bailey, Brian Bailey, Avery Gipson, Taylor Gipson, Jody Edmondson, Michael Edmondson, Javier Olivares, Lucy Olivares, Jamie Lawerence, Tracey Lawerence, Stephanie Cowart-Ott, Nathan Nail, Crystal Nail, Tiffany Graben, Chris Graben, Gleydi Rivera, Nick Ledbetter, Melissa Ledbetter, Wendy Holloway, Catherine McBride, Kim Brown, Christy Hall, Hope Etherton, Randa Brandon, Crystal Hall, Chary Harp, SueLynn Huenink, Kendy Monroy, Claudia Bustos and Krystal Gallegos.

Moving forward, Kirby and Williams encourage graduates to promote other members in their communities to get involved.

“Our work is not done yet,” said Williams. “We want to continue this program next year in all our communities.”

Graduation sponsors include the City of Rainsville and the Towns of Fyffe, Sylvania, Ider and Crossville. Catering for the evening was provided by Tiger Lily of Fort Payne.

For more information or to join, contact DeKalb County Schools Parental Engagement Specialist Tara Kirby at 256-638-7265, ext. 117 and for regular updates, follow DeKalb County Schools Parental and Community Engagement on Facebook.

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