Teachers discuss diversity with parents

Opportunity and achievement were consistent themes in the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation parent panel at the Professional Development room, Jan. 9.

The VICC program allows 1,700 inner city students to attend Rockwood schools. One hundred thirty-four of these students attend Eureka.

Five parents whose students are enrolled in the VICC  Program attended the panel including Ms. Piccola Hall, mother of Corlena Hall; Ms. Rosalind Brown, mother of Haile Wilson; Mrs. Sydney Moore, mother of graduate Courtney Moore and Danielle and James Moore; Mrs. Paulette Frazier, mother of D’Tonio and D’Angelo White; and Mr. Vincent Brown, father of Vincent Dotson.

Throughout the day, 100 faculty members, principals and students attended the panel, including teachers from Crestview Middle School, LaSalle Springs Middle School and Lafayette High School.

Open dialog allowed teachers to ask questions about benefits and disadvantages of this program. Parents expressed frustration with the bus transportation system. The buses their children ride often vary, as do the times students arrive home.

However, parents were positive about their children’s learning and educational opportunities. They cited growing confidence as a huge benefit.

The parent panel is not the first time EHS featured a panel forum, according to Mrs. Jennifer Strauser, associate principal  in charge of diversity and equity.

In the spring of 2011, six African-American students participated on the first panel. They were among African-American students first videotaped answering commonly-asked questions concerning achievement, relationships and culture. Since Mrs. Strauser received such a positive response from faculty viewing these interviews, she held the first panel to give teachers a chance to question the VICC students about their experiences at Eureka.

“It seemed to be such an effective way to get the message out, and it really sparked a fire in the faculty,” Mrs. Strauser said. “The natural progression was that a panel seemed like a good format. So who could we talk to now? Who could be on the panel this time?”

Mrs. Strauser believes the panels are already benefiting teachers and VICC students. African-American students are encouraged to sign up for honors classes and join extra-curricular clubs.

“It’s creating awareness,” she said.  “It’s just those little things that can make huge difference.