The opening paragraph to Mollie Kasper’s article outlines a personalized program designed to build a positive relationship between educators
and parents in an effort to provide the best educational programs for their children.
“A cooperative relationship between teachers and parents of elementary special education students is critical to student success; developing this relationship can be difficult. Often the only contact between these two groups is at the annual Admit, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting. This research focused on the impact of a monthly dinner (Supper@School) hosted by the school for special education students and their families on student, teacher and parent relationships. The benefits of commensality a month these groups are described. Supper@School is proposed as a potential model for outreach in other schools.”
Kasper, a special education teacher at Blackburn Elementary School in the Forney Independent School District in Forney, Texas developed the program to enhance the education experience not only for her students, but for parents as well. She recently had her thesis, ‘If You Feed Them, They Will Come: Increasing Parental Involvement in a Special Education Setting through Commensality’ published in The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin: International Journal for Professional Educators. The on-line journal is published by DKG, a professional international honor society of key women educators.
“Family involvement is crucial for students who receive special education services,” Kasper noted. “However, it is often quite difficult to set up and keep a connection going with families. I needed to find a way to make and sustain a relationship with my students’ families so I came up with the dinners at the school program.”
Kasper developed the ‘Supper@School’ program in an effort to begin and maintain a relationship with the parents of her students. The goal was to get families to come to the school, build a trust and comradery with the parents and guardians and to motivate them to get involved with their child’s education.
The ‘Supper@School’ program began with eight monthly dinners, all of them held at the school. Paper invitations were sent home with students and small door prizes were offered for those in attendance. Throughout the program, Kasper kept notes, collected data and conducted surveys of the progress of the year.
“One of the things we discovered through our data gathering and surveys was that parents loved the opportunity to meet other parents of special education students,” Kasper stated. “Parents were desirous of forming a community and welcomed the opportunity that Supper@School provided.”
Kasper added that the Supper@School program proved to have a positive effect on student, parent and teacher relationships through the interaction of multiple variables including teacher support of students, creating a sense of belong, developing active participation with families and fostering a trust among the participants.
As a result, the Supper@School program may become a model for outreach programs at other elementary schools.
The published copy of, ‘If You Feed Them, They Will Come: Increasing Parental Involvement in a Special Education Setting through Commensality’, is available on-line at www.dkg.org.
For more information about the Forney Independent School District, contact the Forney ISD Marketing and Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 972-564-4055.