Tech Crew Reaches Out to Connect with Community

While Godfrey-Lee students decorated cookies and made crafts, Jodi Brumels walked Veronica Cordova through the process of using a computerized parent portal to view her child’s grades and homework at the recent Rebel U Outreach event.

“I never did it before,” said Cordova, who wanted to learn how to use the online option to check the progress of her 10th-grade Lee High School student. “Sometimes you don’t have time to call the teacher, but you can just turn on the computer and follow what your child is doing.”

Brumels, who works in student data services, worked to register as many students as possible at the technology booth during the recent event at Lee High. Rebel U Outreach aimed to help connect parents and community members with resources. McKenna Coleman, 2, decorates a cookie at Rebel U Outreach

“We’d like to get a whole lot more parents using it,” Brumels said. “It connects them with the school and helps them become more knowledgeable.”

Rebel U Seeks to Engage Families

Rebel U, a five-year-old district initiative that traditionally has focused on professional development for staff members, is reaching out toinform community members of available technology and resources and how to use them, said Sarah Wood, Godfrey-Lee technology and media integration specialist.

“We wanted to make it fun, offer lots of activities for the kids, and also bring in people from the community,” Wood said. “In general, this is really to establish that school is a safe place for parents to come, and it’s fun. Parents in the community can come together.”

Part of connecting people is showing that the schools are open and welcoming, she said. About 90 percent of students receive free or reduced-cost lunch in the one-square-mile, mostly Hispanic district, and 38 percent of people live in households that earn incomes below the poverty line. Establishing schools as a safe place to be is crucial, Wood said.

Connecting with Families to Provide Resources for Learning

It’s often a challenge to connect parents new to America with school resources, officials say. The district offers a technology program providing MacBook laptops to all students, but some parents don’t yet have e-mail addresses.

Pamela Varela, who plays young Fiona in “Shrek the Musical,” entertained children at Rebel Outreach

“Part of what we are trying to do is building that relationship with parents, making them feel comfortable in coming here and answering questions they have regarding technology and what we are doing in the district,” said Dan Townsend, director of technology. “There are some of our parents who aren’t connected– so we want to make sure we have an open channel of communication.”

Parents also gathered information on Kent School Services Network, a countywide program that brings social and medical services to students’ schools and homes, and on Kent District Library programs. Staff members, high-school students and community volunteers painted children’s faces and doled out sugar cookies for decorating. Lee High School Drama Club members in “Shrek the Musical” posed for photos with children and performed numbers on stage. Participants also received free tickets to the musical. 

CONNECT

Godfrey-Lee Tech and Media Team

Rebel U Professional Development

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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