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Column: District 518 continuing to offer PASS

By Adry Stafford, District 518

WORTHINGTON — PASS (Parents Advocating for Student Success) is a program that Worthington District 518 offers to families of students in grades K-12. PASS classes provide families with a better understanding of the importance of their involvement with the school system.

Youths from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to do better when parents and professionals collaborate to bridge the gap between the culture at home and school. One of the goals of PASS classes is to help families be more involved in their student’s education by becoming familiar with the school system and school staff. Another goal is to build up their confidence in their ability to support their children to succeed in the educational system. Families get to know other individuals who might share experiences similar to their own.

This program has evolved since its beginnings in 2006. It has been offered in five different languages and has seen 376 unduplicated individuals participate. In 2016, a new program, “Education: Our Best Legacy,” developed by the University of Minnesota Extension, was integrated into the local PASS program. This new program follows the existing schedule of one class per week over a seven-week period and targets parents of middle school students. The new curriculum covers nine content areas: expectations, structure, learning, support, relationships, modeling, how to navigate the school system, how to help children graduate from high school and seek higher education, and how to achieve self-efficacy.

Facilitators of PASS classes are family liaisons with District 518 who, being parents of students, or having been through the school system themselves, have a good understanding of how the school system functions. Guest speakers include school principals and counselors. Current family liaisons speak English and Spanish, and they receive assistance from interpreters to facilitate classes for other language groups.

PASS classes are being offered in Spanish in September and October, with a morning or an evening option for families with students enrolled at Prairie Elementary, and a morning class for families with students enrolled at Worthington Middle School. Families who participate in these fall sessions will be invited to come back for Phase 2 of the program. Phase 2 covers seven content areas: good study habits, emotional problems and their influence on academic achievement, multiple intelligences and the different ways we learn, how to communicate between cultures, how to support students’ ability to learn, effective methods of parent participation, and planning for a college education.

Past PASS participants have expressed their thoughts about their hopes and dreams for their children, as well as how the program has helped them. Here are some examples:

“I told my why children I’m coming to classes and they encourage me to keep coming and learning so I can help them” — on hopes for the program

“We have changed our routine at home, we changed our priorities, and now we do homework first” — on how learning about structure helped them

“I want the best for my boy, I’d like to see him keep up with his studies, go to a university and have a great future” — on hopes and dreams

District 518 Family Liaisons look forward to working with more families to help them become more comfortable and involved in their children’s educational journey. To get in touch with Pilar Hartshorn or Adry Stafford, call 376-6105.

Adry Stafford is District 518 family liaison.