In 2010, passionate parents and caregivers attending a Believe 2 Become community meeting responded to the question, “How do we help our children reach their full potential?”
With the guidance of LINC Community Revitalization, one group of GRPS caregivers formed an action group called Parent University.
In 2012, several of the parent-leaders joined a more expansive design team to create the framework and a robust offering of classes for Parent University. This design team of caregivers, aided by Evolve!, Believe 2 Become, Grand Rapids Public Schools, LINC Community Revitalization, Kent School Services Network, and Creative Change Mission, spent more than 100 hours putting the details together for a 2013 fall launch.
As articulated by the caregivers, the Parent University vision is to “Help parents be strong advocates of their children’s success.” The parent and community steering committee of Parent University welcomes everyone to join the ranks of Power Parents, helping children succeed.
Want to submit a course proposal?
Are you a local organization, caregiver, teacher, school leader, or other community partner interested in contributing to Parent University in the future? Submit your course proposal today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Criteria for course selection are as follows:
Course must address at least one of the four areas of focus:
- Effective Caregiving
- Personal Growth and Development
- Navigating the Educational System
- Health and Wellness
- Course uses researched, evidence-based curriculum and information.
- Course defines a skill or enhances awareness students will take away from their experience.
- Course is culturally sensitive and content is inclusive.
- Course is relevant, current, interesting, and addresses the needs of families.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Parent University?
Parent University is a community collaborative to help parents become full partners in their child’s education. It offers classes, events, workshops, conferences, leadership training, and mentoring to equip parents for success. Parent University provides all parents opportunities for their children and family to grow and be successful.
We believe that parents are confident advocates of their children’s success.
We believe that all parents want their children to succeed.
We believe all parents are capable of helping their child succeed.
Parent University is not a location. We travel. We bring the courses to the schools and parents at times convenient for all. Since 2013, Parent University has increased the number of offerings for our parents. Currently we offer over 60 different classes from over 40 community partners and GRPS district departments. We offer classes on Effective Parenting, Health and Wellness, Navigating the Educational System, and Personal Growth and Development.
What is Family & Community Engagement?
A mutual commitment among families, schools, and community to effectively support the development of the whole child.
Family: All adults who interact in support of their child, including biological, adoptive, and foster parents; grandparents; legal and informal guardians (e.g., friends of family); and siblings.
Parent: The child’s parent or guardian.
Whole Child Development: A holistic approach to education that generally encompasses the academic, social, emotional, and physical development of the student.
What is a Parent Action Leader (PAL)?
PALs serve as liaisons between families, schools and the District. The principal of each school selects the PAL. The job of the PALs is to serve the school and parents. They work closely with the Family and Community Engagement Office. Their responsibilities are:
- Increase parental engagement and volunteerism
- Empower parents
- Interact with principal and staff
- Encourage classroom assistance
- Attend PAL and Parent Teacher Community Council (PTCC) meetings
- Provide the yearly family engagement schedule
- Help plan and participate in key events throughout the school year (conferences, orientations, open house, Parent University offerings, PTCC meetings, etc.)
What is the Parent Teacher Community Council (PTCC)?
The PTCC is an advisory council on all family and community engagement activities and to the school improvement plan. It provides an avenue, voice and structure for parents, staff and community partner engagement at the school.
The PTCC structure is inclusive of all other groups in the school such as Community School Leadership Team (CSLT), Parent Action Leaders (PAL), and Parent Teacher Organizations (PTSA, PTO, PTA). The PTCC meets monthly throughout the school year and is organized and run by the principal or designee. The PTCC should include members of each group including the principal, 3-5 parents, at least 2 staff members, the KSSN coordinator, and all community partners.
The goals of the PTCC are to strengthen parents’ ability to engage and support student’s academic success and the school improvement plan, to foster a climate where parents, teachers and community partners share ownership in school success and to provide a structure for parents to provide leadership in the schools.
Therefore, the PTCC should:
- Plan, organize, attend and run the monthly informational and educational parent meetings
- Help plan, write, review and implement the school improvement plan
- Plan and work with community partners to improve the academic and lives of the children and their families
- Support district by giving input, voice and action to their goals
- Promote and use Parent University offerings
- Promote and use the parents.grps.org as a resource for families and as a platform for school engagement activities
- Create a friendly and welcoming school atmosphere for parents and visitors
How much do classes cost?
All Parent University classes are free of charge for current and prospective GRPS parents and GRPS volunteers.
Are the classes available in Spanish?
Many classes will be available in Spanish, as indicated in the course list. If the expected audience will have Spanish speaking parents in attendance we will either have a Spanish speaking presenter or a translator. The school office will be able to confirm this.
Where are the classes located?
Parent University is not a location. Parent University classes are held at Grand Rapids Public Schools or Community partner organizations. Schools can request classes to be held at their school by calling the Family and Community Engagement Office at 616-819-1977. A list of courses currently being offered are listed under the Courses tab on our website. Additional topics can be requested by the school.
Is child care provided? Can I take my children along to the class?
Childcare may be offered for some classes. For up to date information, please call the Family and Community Engagement Office at 616-819-1977. Unless childcare is provided, it is best for you and the other parents if children do not attend the classes.
Will I receive a confirmation notice after I register on the site?
You should receive a welcome email from the Parent University office after registering. We will send periodic emails about upcoming Parent University events as well. Your information is not shared with anyone outside the GRPS district or Parent University program.
Do I need to register for the classes?
Most of our classes are held at your local school and you don’t need to register. You can just show up. Some classes require you to contact the school office to register such as the Basic Skills Computer Classes, the ESL classes, and the Cooking Matters class. Community based classes such as the Play & Learn classes have their own registration at the class. If you have any questions please call the Family and Community Office at 819-1977.
Do I need to take anything along?
All materials that you need will be supplied at the class, except for a pencil or pen for taking notes.
Do I get any credit for taking these classes?
At this time classes do not offer credit. We hope that future classes will provide GED credit, early college credit or job- training accreditation.
What if I have other questions?
You can call the Family and Community Engagement Office at 616-819-1977 at any time.
Who are the teachers? Are they professionals?
All Parent University teachers are professionals in their field. They are either GRPS department experts or experts from the community.
Please note that classes offered in English will have a Spanish translator if Spanish speaking parents are expected to attend. Likewise, if a Spanish class expects English speaking parents to attend, a translator will be provided. Parents are always welcome to bring along a personal translator, as well.