Just three weeks into the school year, parents at Reach Academy in East Oakland got a thrilling surprise: a new Parent Center. After a welcome by Reach’s new principal, Ms. Flint-Moore, and newly hired Bilingual Community Assistant, Alexandra Vasquez, PLAN parent leaders who had advocated for the center socialized with parent volunteers and those wanting to become parent volunteers.
The new Parent Center, open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, gives parents a space to meet, socialize, organize and grow with new opportunities, such as a computer lab. The previous Parent Room was shared with the afterschool program and was cluttered with playground equipment and old supplies.
Parent leader and School Site Council Vice-President Ché Phinnesse was one of the many PLAN leaders who advocated for the Parent Center and other improvements to create welcoming environment to families. Last year, she and other leaders planned and conducted teacher/parent surveys, launched a pilot volunteer program and successfully advocated for funds to hire the new Bilingual Community Assistant. Parents also interviewed candidates for the vacant principal position and testified at the School Board for more funding to the school site.
Ché was also part of a parent-led report, The State of Family Engagement in OUSD, which concluded that one of the most important improvements to family engagement and school climate was a space designated specifically for parents on each school campus. “At the Parent Center, we can brainstorm new ideas and programs so we can bring new resources to our school,” she said.