Local Group Holds Meeting to Encourage Parent/Teacher Home Visits

RENO, Nev. - Nevada's graduation rate is increasing, but our state is still lagging when it comes to education.

Thankfully that's something many in our community are working to change.

At the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reno Tuesday, ACTIONN, Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada, held a public meeting to support parent/teacher home visits.

Nevada built an economy around professions requiring more 'on the job training' rather than a degree, like gaming, mining and ranching.

Now the times have changed and students need more education to succeed, but they are struggling more than ever to do so.

Which is why ACTIONN is promoting parent/teacher home visits as a way to get parents more involved.

"Parent/teacher home visits are a road to success by building relationships with parents and teachers, they can work together on behalf of the student," Pat Fling, Executive Director for ACTIONN said.

The visits are voluntary, but they take the traditional parent/teacher conference to the next level.

"Instead of meeting at the school, we're going to be meeting on their turf, and saying what are your hopes and dreams for your child." Ken Rackley, a 3rd grade teacher at Alice Smith Elementary School said.

School district representatives, and members of the community listened to testimonies from parents, teachers, and students who have all benefited from the visits.

9 year old Jenifer Tobias says when her teacher made a home visit, she thought she was in trouble.

"My mom was nervous and I was nervous too," she said. Tobias says she gets straight A's except for on 'B' in conduct, because she says she likes to talk a lot.

But the meetings aren't because students are in trouble. Rackley says often parents are too intimidated to talk to teachers, but he wants them to know it's their right.

"It's a 3 way triangle between the parent, teacher, and child so the student can achieve the greatest achievement."

He says the meetings have also helped him become a better teacher.

"Before I started doing parent/teacher home visits, I had some very stereotypical biases and the home visits helped me get past those."

ACTIONN estimates the program will cost $150,000 in its first year. Teachers from 10 schools will be trained in the program which includes discussion on how to talk with parents and overcome obstacles they may face. ACTIONN hopes that in 5 years 37 schools can be involved in the program. That price tag will be about $550,000.

The money is used to compensate teachers for their time spent training and visiting the home.