One of the more than 30 parents in Stand for Children Oklahoma's first-ever Stand University for Parents (STAND UP) class is a mother in her final trimester who is juggling the demands of her growing family to be with us every Tuesday night. Another mom rushes across town when her shift ends at 6 pm so she doesn’t miss a single minute. A father in the class says that he has never been given specific education on what it will take for his children to go and be successful in college – and that’s why he’s with us. And, yet, another parent, already in graduate school herself, says that while she has a bachelor’s degree, she struggles with how to best navigate a complicated education system to better advocate for her child – and she is looking to STAND UP to help be her compass.
These parents may come from different backgrounds but they all share one thing in common: a desire to learn how to effectively advocate for their children’s education and make sure their school is as supported and successful as possible. That is what STAND UP is all about and why all of these parents are our heroes.
STAND UP is an 8-week leadership focused curriculum for public school parents developed by parent engagement experts at STAND National which also includes an orientation meeting and a formal graduation. It is a research-based program that helps develop leadership skills and empowers parents to have a voice in their children’s education and get more involved in their children’s academics. It also helps parent navigate the often-times intimidating process of connecting to elected officials, like school board members and state lawmakers, to ensure the policies they pass help children be on track for graduation and success in college.
Last night marked Week 3 in our very first STAND UP in Oklahoma, including the informational/orientation meeting. STAND UP is being delivered to more than 30 parents at Caesar Chavez Elementary every Tuesday night for the next four weeks. Some of the topics we are tackling include parent-school relationships; how to engage at school and advocate; understanding and acting on student data and grades; and specific strategies to help students learn at home.
We’ve had a very successful start and it is so inspiring to see these moms and dads join us with such enthusiasm and conviction every Tuesday night. We provide dinner and childcare assistance to ease the burden a time commitment like this means for the whole family – but we all can appreciate that a parent devoting any night of the week away from the home is a sacrifice.
What has been so affirming to observe is how much more confident these parents are becoming having just spent three evenings with me and my colleagues. I can’t wait to see their leadership skills honed and strengthened, for them to become more confident advocates for their children and their school, and for them to receive the recognition they deserve for this commitment on Oct. 27, which will be our STAND UP graduation that will include OKCPS Superintendent Rob Neu.
So stay tuned in this blog and in the weeks ahead as we bring you more news about our first-ever STAND UP and individual, inspirational stories of the inaugural participants from Caesar Chavez Elementary!