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Parent involvement helps kids succeed

It may be difficult for some of us to remember, but there was a time in our lives when we didn’t know everything.

Thanks to teachers, mentors, friends, co-workers and many other generous and helpful individuals, each of us has learned what we needed to know to tackle the challenges that life has placed before us.

For most of us, the toughest challenges probably involved our children, as we struggled to help them succeed in school so they could make their own way in the world.

We learned early on that it paid to be involved in our children’s lives, so we joined the PTA and various booster clubs, signed up to coach athletic teams or volunteered for other activities that allowed us to contribute.

But what if no one had ever encouraged us to get involved or explained how we could contribute? What if there had been no one to show us the ropes?

That was the point of a conference titled Building Bridges to Success that was held Saturday morning at Calhoun Middle School. The conference was presented by community volunteers from a newly formed group called Denton PUENTE — Partners United for Excellence in North Texas Education — and members of the Denton school district and area universities.

Parents attended sessions dealing with topics such as bullying, the importance of bilingual education, how to pay for college, immigration, special education and others. A total of 24 sessions held in Spanish and in English were presented during the conference.

“By drawing parents in today, we can help educate them about the importance they play in the success of their children,” said Mia Price, Denton’s school board president.

Teresa Luna Taylor, a bilingual ESL program director, said the group’s goal is to help the community excel by creating leaders, and that began with events like the inaugural conference.

At the end of the conference, parents were asked to submit a survey and provide comments and suggestions expressing their needs. Organizers hope to recruit five to 10 families, organize an academy for parents and build a community infrastructure.

“This is a history-making event. It was the first time we had a conference like this,” said Rudy Rodriguez, a school board member. “This conference was open to all parents, but we were particularly targeting Latino parents.”

The idea makes sense to us. The more parents we can get involved, the stronger our schools, community and families will be, and the more successful our kids will become.

And like we said, there may be a lot of parents out there who want to get involved, but just don’t know how to go about it. Programs like this will not only encourage them to be more active in their children’s schools and activities, but will also provide the direction and support they need to get started and stay involved.