Detroit Public Schools kicks off groundbreaking Parent University with fast-track courses that will lead to immediate employment opportunities

Detroit Public Schools is announcing registration opportunities for a new Fast Track to Employment Course as part of the district’s Parent University, which launches today, Monday, March 10. Parents who enroll and complete the coursework have an opportunity to be employed as a School Garden Attendant or Food Service Assistant upon acceptance and completion of training.

Initial registration began in February for Parent University, a semester of coursework for parents and guardians in four subject areas allowing them to earn first-ever “Parent Leader” certification.

A total of 20 free classes will be offered, including the Gardening/ Food Service Assistant Course. Registration is occurring at the district’s eight Parent Resource Centers and is open to all DPS parents, primary caregivers and guardians. Classes, which are two hours long, begin today, March 10 and run through May 23.

“We are thrilled to kick off Parent University because we believe this coursework will help parents be the best advocates they can be for their children and will assist them in becoming lifelong teachers in their child’s education,” said Monica Johnson, Program Supervisor, Parent Engagement. “And we know that student achievement increases when parents are engaged and participatory in their children’s education.”

In addition to teaching parents the fundamentals of gardening, the fast-track Gardening/ Food Service Assistant Course will teach parents resume writing and resume building and will demonstrate how parents can apply online for the district’s part-time Garden Attendant and Food Service Assistant position. Garden Attendants work at DPS schools as part of the district’s Farm-to-School program, which helps to place fresh fruits and vegetables grown in DPS school gardens on cafeteria tables throughout the district. Food Service Assistants work in school cafeterias assisting with serving meals, cleaning and other duties.

“The DPS Office of School Nutrition is pleased to join many partners and organizations that will work through Parent University to teach parents useful skills to improve their children’s health and well-being, such as how to grow healthy fruits and vegetables as part of the new Gardening Course,” said Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of the DPS Office of School Nutrition. “We are excited that our partnership will also allow us to provide immediate job opportunities and training for our own parents to serve as Garden Attendants and Food Service Assistants in our schools when they complete their coursework through Parent University.”

Other Parent University partners include: Michigan State University Extension and University of Detroit Mercy.

Providing parenting skills and increasing parent involvement through initiatives like Parent University are major elements of Detroit Public Schools’ five-year Strategic Plan, through which this year the district launched the first phase of another nationally-modeled program – Home-School Teacher Visitations. The visitations add to ongoing robust parenting programs throughout DPS, including workshops at eight regionally-located Parent Resource Centers.

The Parent University model has been successfully introduced in several forms throughout the United States. The DPS model includes:
• The formation of a collaborative of support organizations vested in parents from Head Start to college;
• The development of a professional curriculum for parents tailored to the district’s parent population;
• The opportunity for Parent University graduates to be trained Parent University instructors;
• The opportunity for Parent University graduates to be placed into internships with partner agencies serving on the collaborative group;
• Insight from session leaders who are experts in their discipline from the partner agency collaborators.

Parents can participate in four programs for certificates over the course of three semesters:
• Spring 2014: Parent Leader Certificate (PLC);
• Summer 2014: Parent Educator Certificate (PEC);
• Fall 2014: Parent Leader Certificate (PLC), Parent Educator Certificate (PEC), Parent Mentor; Certificate (PMC) and Parent Advocate Certificate (PAC).

Participants will be able to take classes from four possible tracks:
• Track 1: Student Success – Helping children of all ages;
• Track 2: Life Skills – Maximizing your potential;
• Track 3: Parenting – Effectively raising children;
• Track 4: Leadership – Inspiring others with a vision.

Graduation requirements are: Completion of 10 classes during the semester. Of those 10 classes, participants must complete two classes from each track.

Next phases of the program may include community college credits, placement with workforce development and internships.

Registration is limited to the first 150 parents who apply. For more information, please call 313-240-4377 or visit any Parent Resource Center.

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