Parents Helping Parents of Wyoming State Parenting Center

Krista Sweckard- PEN Outreach and Family-School Partnership Coordinator

Krista Sweckard- PEN Outreach and Family-School Partnership Coordinator

With all the possible topics out there floating around, I thought that I’d pick one that is near and dear to my heart—and one that is maybe a bit on the edgy side—what a way to kick off a new blog!


I love it when we talk to schools and ask them how many parents are on their committees. Most give us an inquisitive look and reply—“well, our teachers, Mrs. Jones and Mr. Swartz are parents, and they are our parent representation.” Hmmmmm. Very interesting….


Why do I love that question and eagerly await that response? Well primarily it is because I argue every time that it is impossible for a teacher to wear that parent hat when they are participating on a committee that is headed up by their boss. How can you be impartial? They cut your check, pay for your insurance and make deposits into your retirement!


Not only is it a conflict of interest, it is not a fair representation of parent voices. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that teachers are parents too—but it’s not the same. Parents that are not employed by the school district will have a very different opinion, insight and suggestion—how could they not? They are not overshadowed by the fear of losing their job if they overstep their bounds.


So, in closing, I stand high above on my soap box—equipped with the argument that we need to empower parents, reach out across the aisle and ask for their input, value their suggestions and engage them in a dialogue that will only benefit our students. Isn’t that why we are there on that committee in the first place????



Comments on: "Teacher or Parent—What Hat are You Wearing Today?" (14)

  1. Crissy said:

    Unfortunately one of the schools i work with the parents that attend the meetings and activities are employees of the school, not necessarily teachers, and sometimes i think the reason they show is because its part of their job. They are honestly interested in what is going on with their kids but they are very aware of what is going on at the school unlike the parents that don’t attend the activities at the school. As far as the other schools i have to agree with Anita and that it is always the same core group that keep attending the parent group meetings and i need to figure out a way to help get more parents there.

  2. Blanca Moye said:

    I think that it is very important as a parent to understand the education as the only treasure we can give our children. It takes a lot of things to foster this such as time, concern and love. That is why it is our job as parents to try to go to meetings at the school, be a part of the various committees and take time to speak with educators. As a mom my biggest concern is to be certain that my child is performing the way that he should and that I am helping the educator reach that goal as well. I want to give my child all of the available opportunities that I can as I am certain that most other parents do as well.

  3. I have a alot of experience with getting parents to serve on committees. I find a personal telephone call almost always works rather than the classic “note sent home “with the student. If the teacher just passes the need to a responsible parent that will call other parents. I have not had any luck with PTA approach as it always a core group that attends and participates.

  4. Michele said:

    I have to agree with Kelly. I think that the Principals should seek out the minority and low income parents and invite them also to sit on committees as well as the parents of children with disabilities. They too would have some valuable input.

  5. Speaking as a single parent and a military spouse of 10 years, in Cheyenne, it is particularly hard to find support systems in a large military community. I had no support system of any sort when we first came to Cheyenne. The military is so mobile, that I still have little to no support system. Single parents and military parents (as spread out as society has become) HAVE to be able to bring the kids along to these meetings/committees. If we can’t, we just won’t be able to attend. So have something for the kids to do and color us there!

  6. Every one of you is correct and I agree, I think Samantha has the right idea. I went to a conference where a new principal was the keynote and in his district (somewhere back east) was the lowest parent involvement in the country, he set out to change that by visiting every parent in their home for the first year, that following year he had one of the highest parent participation rates. It’s amazing what a personal touch can do.

  7. Samantha said:

    I’ve taught at the elementary level in the past and love the school setting, however, as a parent I find it somewhat intimidating at times to become involved at my daughter’s school. They have kept the communication lines open nicely and invited all parents into the school through newsletters but a personal invitation speaks volumes and would be hard to say no to.

  8. One of the issues in gathering parents to be members of a committee or school team is the comfort level, or lack thereof. so ahving a spouse of an educator or school staff prson can almost defeat the purpose…not saying NOT, just saying we want to build leadership skills with someone who might not be comfortable at the beginning. Yet as they gain confidence and understanding of what is needed and expected of them , they will become more comfortable, whihc hopefully will then lead to them becoming more and more engaged. Most spouse (s) of school staff are already pretty comfortable going in and out of the school and asking for and receiving what they need (from adminsitrators and/or school staff). we want to build on that with other families who are not as comfortable. Is this too long a response for a blog?

  9. Kelly Rogers said:

    However, when finding parents to be on the committees, principals need to look outside their most eager parents and petition the parents whose voices are seldom heard; ie, parents representing minorities, low income or disabled families. These parents provide valuable feedback and analysis, too! Also, if there is a “problem parent” that principals don’t know how to effectively satisfy, requesting their input on various committees will give the parent a voice they may feel they are lacking.

  10. LiEnisa said:

    I think that many parents still have the mindset that if the school wanted their input they would ask for it. The parents don’t realize that they have a right, as well as a duty, to be an advocate for their child and other children in the school. And having been a parent who worked for the school district her child attended, IT DOES NOT WORK TO WEAR BOTH HATS! Not even if you are in different schools. You are often still seen as an employee first and a parent second! Now, as the parent of a middle school student, it is even harder to find school activities to be involved in. School notification systems like the automated phone calls keep me in the loop and my child out of it! That keeps the peace between she and I and gives me the option to be a part of school without interfering with her “world”.

  11. I think that schools need to think outside the box when seeking out parents to sit on the various building committees. I have found a pretty favorable response to having sign up sheets at Back to School Nights, parent teacher conferences, etc. I have also just recently heard of parents “job sharing” a committee….meaning that one parent sits on the committee for only a quarter or semester and then switches off with another parent; that way neither parent is overwelmed with the year long commitment. Just a few ideas to get those creative minds working!!

  12. I think that schools should work hard to find parents to serve on committees. Their outside opinions are important. Sometimes asking just once or twice in the school newsletter isn’t enough. I have found that a personal phone call works better.

  13. Tammy said:

    I agree with Krista. Parents also need respect encouragement, and tentative listeners when engaging with educators and administrators.

  14. Ronda said:

    So if they work at a different school in the same district or central administration….does that change anything? What about spouses of school district employees?

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