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Parents, Teachers, Students Connect Over Breakfast & Books


Parent Cafes at three Grandville elementary schools are once again proving popular.

The periodic gatherings, held for six school years in either the morning or evening, usually draw between 60 and 160 parents and their children. The goal, said organizer Teresa McDougall, instructional coach and parent educator, is to give parents strategies for helping their children to learn. Parent Cafes typically include a snack, a brief presentation and time for parents and children to read together.

“She loves coming because she loves to learn,” said parent Laura Goldsmith of her first-grade daughter, Anika, at a recent East Elementary parent cafe. “To get all these parents to come is really cool, and I think it shows parents want to be here, they want to spend time with their kids in the morning and they want resources.”

Fifth-grade teacher Kristi Mercer agrees. “It’s nice for teachers too because this gives us time to interact with students and parents on a different level. It’s very positive time together and it’s a different way for parents to be involved in school.”

Parent Cafes are aimed at schools with large populations of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. The gatherings are made possible through federal funds allocated to the state for use in parent education programs. Besides East Elementary, Central and West elementaries also host parent cafes. Families from those schools who wish to attend should contact the school’s main office.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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