Your View: Parents can help students make the grade

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To the editor:

One of the great thrills of running a business is the inherent opportunity to springboard into a wide array of community involvement: food drives, children’s Christmas parties, etc. One specific community activity that thrills me is guest-lecturing at area high schools.

Recently at a local high school, I was sharing some corporate culture that works very well for our company: how problems at home can spin out of control and impede on-the-job-performance.  Indeed, in our routine skills-and-training classes, I’m always encouraging our department managers to engage an employee if they sense something is amiss on the home front, offering where possible to be an ally in solving a problem before bad goes to worse. It’s not always possible, but valued employees are worth the effort.

Well, this prompted a young student to raise a hand and introduce a parallel dynamic about how in her household, the dysfunction between her parents and herself was a constant roadblock to her being an otherwise better student. The heads that nodded as she spoke, her fellow classmates expressing agreement with her not-so-unique perspective, blew me away.

Poll after poll shows the general public believes parental involvement at the local level represents the key to improving our schools. Fundraisers, PTA, booster groups and the like are significant, as is  our company’s willingness to cross cultures and be “home helpful.” The same logic applies to “school supportive” parents actively involved from their neighborhoods.

And all efforts matter. For example, be sure your child begins their morning with a good breakfast. Provide time and a quiet place for home study. Set limits on TV viewing. Discuss career options with your student, especially those in high school. Talk with them every day about their school experiences; ask about their homework. You might also inquire of the school whether their teachers encourage classroom visits or email sharing. And do tell your family and friends how proud you are of your child’s scholastic accomplishments. Believe me, kids will  notice.

These represent just a few ideas my wife and I are embracing as parents of two young ones we love beyond words and will do anything for — especially when it comes to their schooling. Then hopefully, as the great national debate continues on educational issues like private versus public schools, vouchers, tenure, new-world classroom priorities, reduction of red tape, school compliances and such, we’ll not lose sight of what I believe matters most: parents actively sharing in and making the difference in their children’s education. After all, who knows and loves the student more than the parent?

– Basim Mansour

President of Michael and Son Services, Alexandria

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