With free workshops covering a host of topics — including resume writing, cooking on a budget, college preparation, using the county library and choosing a K-12 school — Portland Public Schools' new Parent Academy will offer families year-round support in locations across Portland.
is a collaboration of Portland Public Schools and community partners. Workshops are diverse but share a common purpose: promoting student achievement.
"It's a holistic way of helping families support their children," says Reiko Williams, family engagement coordinator with the school district. "If I'm struggling financially or unhappy in my career, it will affect my ability to relate to school and help with homework. If I feel self-actualized, I'm much better able to engage."
PPS parent Shawna Williams and Reiko Williams, manager of family and community support, talk about the importance of parent involvement in student achievement.
The academy leverages community resources. The Portland Police Bureau, for example, is helping with a workshop on redirecting kids to make positive decisions. PPS chooses topics based on current parent needs.
"It has a bottom-up focus. It reflects parent feedback and input from people who work with families daily," Williams says.
Parent Academy is inspired by programs in Miami-Dade (Florida) and Montgomery (Maryland) counties and the San Francisco Bay area, among others. Unlike those programs, Parent Academy runs on a tight, grant-funded budget. But with the momentum the grant provides, Williams is hopeful that Parent Academy will continue as a year-round series of events.
Says Williams: "The goal is to empower parents. Eventually we'd love to see more parents stepping up and leading workshops themselves."
How to use Parent Academy
Check the schedule
for workshop dates and times (it also is being mailed to families). All events are free, and many include dinner and child care. Most are scheduled in the evening.
Pre-registration is encouraged for PPS-sponsored events. Call 503-916-3080 or print and complete this form
and fax or mail it to the address listed.