Providence Schools and the Paul Cuffee School Launch the Providence Parent Academy

PPA photos (March 2015) (14)

Mayor Jorge Elorza speaks at a press conference announcing the launch of the Providence Parents Academy. Seated, from left, are Amy Punchak, co-chair of the Parents Advisory Committee, Supt. Lusi and Paul Cuffee Head of School Christopher Haskins.

In a joint announcement on March 16, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, School Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi and Paul Cuffee Head of School Christopher Haskins joined together to announce the launch of the Providence Parent Academy, a community-driven initiative designed to provide families with the tools and resources they need to become more meaningfully engaged in their children’s education. 

The Parent Academy, similar to programs in Westerly, R.I. and Springfield, Mass., aims to build the capacity of Providence parents to become effective partners in their child’s education.  It is based on the premise that parent-teacher collaboration is critical to a child’s success in school, and the classes offered aim to remove barriers to that process while establishing trusting relationships that benefit students.

At a packed press conference held at the Providence Public School Department’s (PPSD) Office of Family and Community Engagement, Mayor Elorza said, “The Providence Parent Academy will invite and prepare parents to engage with our schools. Through targeted classes and programs, parents will work in conjunction with their schools and the district to create a supportive environment for all of our children and families.”

An array of classes will be available, free of charge, to the parents of students in Providence Public Schools and at the Paul Cuffee School. Classes, which begin on March 24 and will be offered through early June, will be held throughout Providence’s public school buildings, at the Paul Cuffee School’s facilities and at Lifespan’s Community Health Services on Prairie Avenue. Interpreters and children’s activities will be available at each class.

Classes include learning about the college financial aid process, social media safety, PARCC assessments, services for students with special needs, stress reduction strategies and communicating with teens. All of the classes are one-time meetings with the exception of English for Speakers of Other Languages, Parent Leadership Training and Stress Reduction Strategies.

“We are thrilled to join with the Paul Cuffee School to launch the Providence Parent Academy with its myriad possibilities to help parents contribute to their children’s academic achievement,” said Supt. Lusi. “Research continuously proves that students whose parents are involved in their education exhibit faster rates of literacy acquisition, earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills and behavior and are less likely to be absent from school. The Parent Academy is an important resource in bolstering a stronger family-school partnership.”

The Providence Parent Academy results from a two-year exploration and planning effort by the Offices of Family and Community Engagement and Educational Partnerships for Providence Schools and the Offices of Admissions and Family Engagement and Institutional Advancement at the Paul Cuffee School.

“The Providence Parent Academy will bring together families, schools and other community organizations to deliver an array of courses in locations across the city, at no cost, and at times convenient to families,” said Haskins of the Paul Cuffee School. “These are courses often requested by our families and designed to teach strategies that improve outcomes in school and at home.

“This initiative deepens Paul Cuffee School’s collaboration with the Providence Public School Department and other organizations who share our vision for improving student performance and strengthening our community,” he continued.

Amy Punchak, co-chair of the Parent Advisory Committee, said the Parent Academy offered an exciting opportunity for students and families since parents are eager to help their children succeed. Many found it difficult to attend the one-day Parent Conference that offered a selection of workshops, so the Parent Academy will provide more options in terms of dates and locations of classes.

Parents may enroll in classes online at  Courses have limited seating available so parents are encouraged to register at least one week before the class start date. Parents may also register at the Family and Community Engagement Office located at 379 Washington Street in Providence or call the office at (401) 456-0686.