Local School Leaders Make House Calls

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In an attempt to let parents know what's happening at the middle and high schools, administrators and counselors will be making visits to outlying communities during November.

The first visit is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6 at Tonto Valley Bible Church in Gisela.

Other visits will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Mesa del Community Center for parents of Mesa del Caballo and Whispering Pines; and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17 at the Moose Lodge for parents in Star Valley and Christopher Creek.

Participating in the visits will be high school principal Sue Myers, middle school principal Frank Larby, RCMS assistant principal Tim Fruth, and counselors Don Heizer and Judy Michel. They will be accompanied by Blanche Oakland, parent community liaison for the two schools.

"It was (Fruth's) brainchild," Oakland said. "This summer, we worked in outlying areas. We talked about attendance and how it could help grades. We were received with open arms. (The parents) were surprised the school made an effort to come to them."

The areas selected for summer visits were the result of identifying where there were groups of students with attendance problems and few parents able to visit the schools and take advantage of open houses and similar functions. The visits went so well, and had the desired effects -- a 2 percent increase in attendance -- school officials decided to extend the efforts.

"It reflects in test scores, which are pretty good," Fruth said, "The school was ranked as ‘highly performing' which is exceptional. I suggested a meet-and-greet town hall, where parents could ask questions about grades, progress reports, testing. We would be making house calls."

"Once we had the idea, we discussed it with the other administrators," Oakland said, "And they thought it was a great idea."

Taking the project a step further, area businesses were contacted and asked to help the project with donations of pizza and soda.

Both Pizza Hut and Pizza Factory came through with contributions, Oakland said.

"To be a good school takes a community effort," Fruth said.

No matter how many people show up at the meetings, Fruth said, "We're making the effort. That's very important. We'll take anybody we can get out there."

To get the word out in the communities being visited, the school personnel have made contact with key people and asked them to let their friends and neighbors know about the events.

"(Oakland) has been extremely involved in the outreach," Fruth said.

"It's been long needed. We work closely together and make a very good team," he said. "I like that community contact and she's done all the leg work as part of the ‘No Child Left Behind' legislation. We absolutely want no child left behind."

The goal of the visits is to answer questions and also let parents and guardians know about all the programs available through the school and all the contact people.

Oakland said this is the second year the Payson Unified School District has had a Parent Community Liaison program. She serves the middle and high schools, while her counterpart, Christy Walton, handles the same tasks for the elementary schools.

"I'm really excited and I think we're headed in the right direction," Fruth said. "The parent liaison positions have been a real blessing."

For more information, call Oakland at (928) 978-1479.

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