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Column: District 518 offers PASS classes to connect with, inform families

By Sharon Johnson, District 518

WORTHINGTON -- District 518 values communication with parents and encourages families to be engaged in the education of their own children and involved with the school system.

District 518 has offered Parents Advocating for Student Success (PASS) classes as an outreach and engagement opportunity for the last 10 years. PASS classes were patterned after a parent engagement model in California initiated by the Parent Institute for Quality Education. Since 2006, ISD 518 has offered 69 PASS classes. We have had about 1,000 parents/guardians participate, with at least 750 of the participants attending enough sessions to graduate from the program. Over the years, PASS has been offered in English and four additional languages.

This coming week, the fall PASS classes will begin in ISD 518. Four classes will be held, including classes for parents of Prairie Elementary students in Spanish and Karen and classes for parents of Worthington Middle School students in Spanish and Karen. These classes will be facilitated by ISD 518 family liaisons Pilar Hartshorn and Adriana Stafford. Karen interpretation will be provided by family liaison Lah Gay Htoo and NCIC youth development leader Kennedy Say. As part of the PASS program, the building principal hosts a dialogue with the participants and answers their questions. Participants consider the Principal’s Dialogue a highlight of the series of lessons.

This year, District 518 Community Education is collaborating with the University of Minnesota Extension service to pilot a new family engagement curriculum called Education: Our Best Legacy. This fall, the new seven-week curriculum will be utilized with the PASS classes for parents of middle school students. We are honored to have been selected by the University of Minnesota Extension Service to pilot the multi-cultural version of the curriculum. Input from local parents and facilitators will be considered as the final revisions to the curriculum are completed. When the curriculum is published, we plan to incorporate the materials more broadly in local parent and family engagement opportunities.  

District 518 is committed to building strong relationships and open communication with families; increasing parents’ knowledge and skills so that they may help their children succeed in school, graduate and effectively prepare for future college and career opportunities. The PASS program is one of many strategies that ISD 518 implements to accomplish these outcomes.  

At this time, approximately 50 parents have pre-registered for the fall PASS classes, but we have room for more. Individuals interested in participating in a PASS class may call Community Education at 376-6105 to enroll in a fall PASS class.  

Sharon Johnson is District 518’s Community Education Director.