Staying Cool In The Summer With Rainier Beach Parents

Summer Parent Workshop Series

By: Brian Tracey

For six consecutively hot Thursdays, parents met during the cool evening hours. They laughed, they shared, and had moments of discomfort. In the summer of 2016, Seattle MESA began supporting parents of our students with our Summer Parent Workshop Series at Rainier Beach High School. We partnered with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and while CDF focused on literacy and social justice education, we provided our tried and true Summer Math Bridge program.  After an initial orientation, we had over 20 families sign up to participate. The group consisted of parents representing lower (9th and 10th grade) and upper (11th and 12th) classmen. Each family received a personalized high school academic plan (corresponding to the grade of the scholar) in polished folder with their name written on it.

Through an initial meeting about goals and expectations, the parents set the topics they wanted to cover over the five weeks. The topics varied from the basics of U.S. high school structure and demystifying the elusive grade point average (G.P.A), to the more serious discussions about drug and alcohol prevention. In the age of information and internet sharing, we would have been remiss not to have a discussion on social media etiquette and understanding the various way our students are communicating online. To our surprise, the topic parents were most interested in, was peer pressure. For those two sessions, we shared personal stories from our own pasts and present, as well stories from the lives of their scholars. In our time together, a kinship manifested. Thanks to collaborative efforts with Freedom Schools and Rainier Beach personnel, we were able to bring in guests speakers and interpreters for our Spanish and East African speaking parents.

Seattle MESA parent program’s goal is to give valuable and practical, socio-academic information to the parents. While there is logical focus on academic prowess, we will also address real-world social issues that challenge our students daily. In the process of empowering themselves, we hope our participating parents are inspired to travel along the academic pathway, together with their student, onward to success, however they choose to define it.

In our last session, the parents created a vision board, not just for their individual scholar, but for all the participants of the CDF Freedom School and Seattle MESA Summer Math program.  As true for all of our programming, we will continue to work with these parents throughout their scholars’ high school careers.