Giving Thanks for Engaged Parents

by Lauren Taylor
First Grade Teacher, Milwaukee

On Tuesday, November 26th, we had our first annual Feast of Thanks at Southside Community Prep.  We ate a traditional thanksgiving meal—turkey, mashed potatoes and the like—and invited parents to join us. We had a tremendous turnout with over 20 Rocketeer family members attending, many bringing food for Rocketeers to share with their fellow classmates.  We had an abundance of food and fun at our very first Feast of Thanks.

Scanning the packed room on Tuesday, I was overwhelmed by the show of support from our parents and family members.

At first, parents were hanging around the back of the room and some seemed unsure of what they should be doing.  Quickly, they became comfortable, starting to mingle and talk with one another.  Our event turned into something that felt like a family gathering.  A parent volunteer ran a Thanksgiving craft station that Rocketeers completed after we ate our meal.  As we were winding down and cleaning up, I heard Rocketeers exclaiming things like: “This is the best Feast of Thanks ever!”  All of our hard work had paid off.

I think our Feast of Thanks was, in a way, a microcosm of what we have dedicated so much time and energy to cultivating in our first year at Southside Community Prep—an environment where parents become natural leaders in our school.  I believe that we saw this start to happen last week with our parents taking ownership of our school culture in a powerful way.  I saw parents helping Rocketeers that they have no relation to and jumping in to assist with the Thanksgiving craft, helping Rocketeers spell out what they are thankful for or place a sticker perfectly.  Parents were also building a community amongst the different families in the room, sharing plans for the holiday and chatting about the delicious food that was brought in.

Rocketeers working on their Thanksgiving Craft

The privilege (and expectation) to work so closely with parents and families is one of the things that makes working at Rocketship different.  Parents becoming an integral part of the school truly makes the difference for our Rocketeers.  This is a simple concept to understand but the power of seeing this take place in person is quite different, moving, and one of the most rewarding parts of being a teacher at Rocketship.  This year, I am thankful for the parents and families of all my students and the privilege to be a part of their journey!

Rocketeers eating their Feast of Thanks meal together

Lauren teaches first grade math on the founding team at Southside Community Prep in Milwaukee, WI. She graduated from DePaul University with a BA of Philosophy and holds a MEd from Marquette. Outside of the classroom, Lauren enjoys baking and gardening.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @Laurenphl

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