Making the Moments Count

Throughout November, we have been raising awareness about how important parents are to their children’s academic success. But, it wouldn’t be fair to talk about what parents should do and not acknowledge the challenges they face to stay involved.

Last week, I met with four parents from different backgrounds who shared both their accomplishments and struggles when it comes to being involved parents. I was deeply moved when Tamara, a working mom of one, told us how she was determined not to let her sudden job loss affect her relationship with her daughter. Tamara’s new job often requires night and weekend hours, limiting their quality time together.

Tamara Austin talks with Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart during a Parental Involvement Round Table.

But Tamara is resourceful. When she can’t be involved in the classroom, she works with her daughter’s teachers over email and by phone. And, when she’s at home, she lets Lauren choose their activity.

Natalie’s life also changed dramatically this year when she and her husband decided to transition all five of their children to public school. As a long-time homeschooler, Natalie is hands-on with her children’s education, but felt that choosing public school would allow her to spend more quality “mom” time.

She still volunteers in each child’s classroom, but admits that it gets harder once your child is in high school. “Now we just take the moments that we have.”

Doug, a working dad of one, shared with the group that he often has to be persistent when it comes to staying involved with his daughter’s education. He found eating dinner every night as a family keeps them connected.

Our fourth participant, Allison, said that she tries to encourage her three children’s educational pursuits, no matter how gross they might be. She kept us all laughing as she detailed her daughter’s love of bugs.

But, the most poignant moment came at the end of our discussion when I asked Allison about her current struggle to get information about her son’s progress in school. “I remind myself that this is my child and I will do whatever I have to do to help him succeed,” she said.

As we come to another important holiday this week, I am reminded by these four incredible parents that we have so much to be thankful for. At my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, when it is my turn to share what I am thankful for, I will be thinking about Florida’s incredible educators and the millions of dedicated parents who support them.

On behalf of the Florida Department of Education, I want to wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

To view the video, click here.

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