Parent Leadership Shines at Erwin Middle

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Parent Leadership Shines at Erwin Middle

Parent involvement alongside school staff, community partners, and students is one of many crucial components in the Community School Strategy. It’s a necessary element in creating community-level change, with the school serving as a resource center and gathering space. 
Last year at Erwin Middle School, we witnessed parent leadership grow stronger as volunteers from the community joined forces with parents to form the Erwin Parent Team. These highly engaged parents and community members essentially took ownership of the weekly Homework Diners, dedicating their time to ensure that registration was covered, food was being served, and mentors were in place and ready to take on questions from students. They moved and shifted from week to week, ensuring that all of the vital tasks were taken care of. 



We've Come a Long Way Since 2014...

As we close in on the halfway mark of our fifth year working in partnership with Erwin Middle School (and surpassing our 200th Homework Diner in Buncombe County along the way) it’s safe to say that we’ve come a long way since starting Community Schools with the support of Americorps volunteers in 2014. 
None of the progress being made in the Asheville, Enka, Erwin or Owen school districts is possible without the belief and leadership from the principal, teachers and administration; the support of local nonprofits and businesses; the participation and ownership of programs by the students; the compassion and care of our Community School Coordinators and of course, the inclusion and dedication of our student’s parents and families.


"More than Homework Problems..."


Mishelle and Gary Allen of the Erwin Parent Team got involved with Homework Diners when they began, helping to form part of the backbone support of the Erwin Parent Team. With both seventh and eighth-grade students at the time they felt this was a way to show up and allow their children to see their presence in the school as they met other parents and shared a weekly meal with fellow members of the school and community. When asked why he and his wife decided to step in and dedicate themselves to weekly volunteer support, Gary said, “The way it's set up with tutors, staff and a free meal, they get a week’s homework done in a couple hours and are really benefiting from it. Their work habits are better, grades have come up, and their rapport with the teachers is a lot better. It felt like since we were benefiting, we ought to help out too.” 


“You meet a lot of other kids and their parents or guardians here and you see how they’re working with their kids and you get to communicate with them on this same level and work together,” shared parent Mishelle Allen, who volunteers weekly at Erwin Middle. “Because there are more than homework problems, there are personal problems and health issues that you’ve both been through and you can help each other out,” her husband Gary shared. “It just builds a stronger community.” 


Fellow Erwin Parent Team member Rosanna Wilson feels the same, sharing that it was a no-brainer for her to become more involved. She brings her son with me and as he has dinner and is being helped with his homework, she helps register participants as they come into the cafeteria. “I think being tutored by someone other than your teacher or your mom is the trick,” she said. “Just hearing a different teaching method, can help because everyone learns differently.”


“Parents know their community and their kids best,” shares former Community School Coordinator Linnea Burgevin. “If we want to be building healthier communities and stronger schools, it is within our community's best interest to ensure the schools are partnering with parents. Not doing things for them, not allowing to do something, but a true and authentic partnership. This is hard, there are growing pains, but when parents are truly partners at the table-- the results are unquestionable.”


Your continued support allows us to keep growing the community school strategy here in Asheville and Buncombe County. 



Get Involved:


Learn more about Homework Diners.
Donate to help support the continuation and growth of these free weekly events supporting students and families.



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