The Proviso District 209 Board of Education approved the hiring of two new “parent coordinator” positions, at its June 13 meeting.
Eva Kardaras and Delinda Hyde, (pictured left to right in feature photo), each with a one-year contract for $46,000, started work July 15. The pair is tasked with running the district’s two new parent centers — information clearinghouses and community-resource hubs — meant to further the district’s goal of building relationships with outside partners and Proviso residents.
The centers, one at Proviso East and West, will be open during regular school hours and will offer information about academic opportunities, curriculum and school resources.
“We want parents to be treated as partners,” D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez said. “It appeared to me parents were treated as consumers, very transactional. We want to do this together. We are not going to do this in isolation.”
At the centers, computers will be available for parents to track student progress, and there are plans for parent programming, such as English-as-a-second-language and nutrition classes. Specific programming, said Daniel Johnson, D209’s director of student and parent involvement, will depend on community feedback.
“A big piece is making sure when [parents] walk into Proviso East and Proviso West, there’s someone there who can point them in the right direction,” Johnson said. “There’s someone there who can get it taken care of.”
D209 school board members Rodney Alexander and Ned Wagner both stressed, in an Aug. 7 phone call, that parental involvement and community engagement are critical for student achievement.
“It’s never been just about the children by themselves,” Alexander said. “It’s always been about the community. You can have the best teachers, the best administrators, the best school board. Without the parents, were still going to be at a deficit.”
The push for parent coordinators and establishing parent centers came out of conversations in a board policy committee that Wagner chaired. Alexander was a member of the committee before his election to the board in April 2017. Wagner was elected in 2015.
“One of the most overwhelming things from two years ago was parents felt disconnected,” Wagner said. “Parents felt they didn’t know who to talk to. That was a huge piece of what we needed to fix to move our schools forward.”
These centers and the two new positions are an effort to respond to that need.
“It’s great to see now that I am a board member that the community was listened to. Ned’s committee was not just for show,” Alexander said. “They paid attention and they listened.”
“It’s a core of what we stand for,” Wagner said of community and parental engagement. “It’s a concrete sign that we’re working for what’s best for the kids.”
Kardaras, who will be at Proviso East, is a Chicago native and a graduate of DePaul University. She has 17 years of experience in “minority health issues, prevention and community empowerment” according to the district’s website.
Hyde, who will be at Proviso West, is D209 alum and longtime resident of Proviso. She worked as a secretary at Proviso East before moving to Atlanta in 2006 to work at an all-girls school. She returned to Chicago in 2015.
Both Hyde and Kardaras will attend D209’s community forums, planned for later this month. VFP