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Accomack Schools Open Parent Center

May 19, 2010
OAK HALL -- Without an education, children will struggle to succeed in the future. But without strong parent involvement in schools, children will struggle to succeed in the classroom.

The Accomack County School Board realizes the necessity of parent involvement and has created the new Parent and Family Resource Center, which officially opened Saturday.

The new center is located on U.S. Route 13 in Oak Hall between Arcadia High and Arcadia Middle schools in the old Farmers and Merchants Bank building.

The mission of the center is "to support meaningful, effective and durable relationships between families, communities and schools."

Pauline Milbourne, one of the two part-time coordinators for the center, was there during Saturday's open house to answer questions from parents and community members. Milbourne, a retired area extension agent, spoke of how the center will improve connections between parents and school faculty members.

"It will provide an opportunity to break down barriers and increase communication between teachers, parents, administrators and counselors," said Milbourne.

The open house began at 9 a.m. and lasted until 1 p.m. Accomack County Parks and Recreation provided a moon bounce for children who attended with their parents. Chincoteague's Island Creamery also gave out ice cream to the public.

At 10 a.m. Milbourne and her co-coordinator, Zorylu Diaz-Bonilla, spoke before the ribbon cutting.

Milbourne gave the opening remarks and talked of how she was excited to get back to her roots in Accomack County Public Schools, where she acquired her education years ago. Diaz-Bonilla followed Milbourne's speech and mentioned many points concerning the important role parents play in the schools.

She also addressed the center's issue of reaching out to those parents who have no involvement in their child's education.

"One of our important tasks is getting parental involvement from those parents that don't want to come to school," said Diaz-Bonilla.

After the two coordinators spoke, Superintendent W. Richard Bull Jr. discussed how the center will help parents become more active.

Bull also said the school system was able to create the center during this current time of economic hardship because the federal government requires that a percentage of their school funds be used for parent involvement.

Those in attendance toured the new facility, scanning the large open room that contained bulletin boards with SOL test calendars and school faculty directories, four small wooden tables with chairs, a projection screen and bookshelves containing education booklets and pamphlets for parents.

The center also has four laptops parents can use to access "Power School," Accomack county's online site where parents can login to see their child's report cards, attendance rate and more.

The public was also introduced to Roberto Quintero, a bilingual information specialist for the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center. This organization is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and it aims to promote partnerships among parents, schools and communities.

The center plans to work with Quintero and schedule free English and Spanish workshops that he will lead for parents. In one of his workshops, Quintero reviews the "Parent Involvement Compact" with parents, which is a contract between parents and schools saying that the parent will be actively involved in their child's education.

Although the facility is located in the far north end of the county, the center still plans to reach out to those who live in the southern part of the county, like Pungoteague Elementary School in Bobtown, and aren't able to drive so far.

"Not everything is conducted here," said Milbourne. "We can take the program there ... use Pungoteague Elementary, churches or firehouses."

Megan Crutchley was one of the parents who toured the new center. Crutchley has a 7-year-old son who attends Pungoteague, and she feels that coming to the center and speaking with the coordinators will be very beneficial.

"There are a lot of good resources and good information (at the center)," said Crutchley. "It's especially great for me since I only have one child and I'm new to the school."

The center is open to parents and families Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., or by appointment.

Article can be located at,+2010&author=Malissa+Watterson&pub=&desc=Schools+open+parent+center

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