Middle, high school parents attend Parent Academy
Posted on 01/27/2020
Parents listen to presenter Julie Mitchell

Deciding the best courses to take in middle and high school to prepare for one’s life goals can be overwhelming. To help take the stress out of academic planning, close to 500 guests attended the free Parent Academy Saturday, Jan. 25.

Orange County Public Schools’ Parent and Family Engagement department hosted “Together Toward Tomorrow,” the first Parent Academy focused on middle and high school students and families. 

“Family engagement is associated with academic achievement, increased attendance, decreased behavior incidents and parent efficacy,” Shauana Hughes-Sims, Parent and Family Engagement senior administrator, said. “Family engagement is about building capacity in families to support and sustain student and school improvement.”

At the opening session, Dr. Kathy Shuler, Chief Academic Officer, welcomed guests and spoke about the value of parental involvement in a child’s academic career. She thanked everyone for attending the day’s event and for making the commitment to their child’s success.

Dr. Mike Armbruster, Career and Technical Education Associate Superintendent and keynote speaker, encouraged parents and students to look at the variety of options within OCPS. He encouraged attendees to remember that all paths to success do not have the same course and to not feel the need to pigeon hole oneself into a set way. Using humor and personal stories, he shared how taking advanced coursework and career and technical education classes can help create a well rounded student - what he’s often called the steak and lobster experience.

As entertainment, West Orange High School’s theater department energized the audience with songs by Gloria Estefan, Frank Sinatra and “Bright Star” the musical.

Of the 30 courses offered, attendees could choose two. Parent workshops provided a variety of information to help support their child’s learning. Workshop offerings ranged from topics like college readiness, strategies for struggling learners and transition techniques to wellness, financial literacy, and district resources available to all OCPS families.

Much like conscientious students, parents took copious notes and photos of important slides.

After lunch, parents and students visited the exhibit hall where representatives from colleges and universities, like Valencia College and Stetson University, OCPS magnet schools and community organizations distributed information. Attendees enjoyed speaking with admissions counselors or high school magnet students about specific programs. Overall, the event provided parents and students with the clarity they sought.

For those interested in attending the next Parent Academy: “A Celebration of Success,” it’s March 28 at Ocoee HS.

If attending in-person is not possible or if you just want more information, check out the Virtual Parent Academy: “Let’s get Tech Savvy,” Feb. 20, 6-7 p.m.

In person and virtual academies are free. The programs also offer complementary translation services to assist speakers of another language.