- Sponsorship -

Immigrant parents learn how to track their children’s progress online


The library at Bowen Elementary School was anything but quiet on a recent evening, when several dozen parents learned how to explore the website containing their children’s grades during the Kentwood Public School’s EL Parent Academy.

As instructor Pam Thompson explained the features of the school district’ s Parentvue program for some 40 parents in attendance, she paused so 11 translators in the room could interpret what she said in their native tongues.

With nearly 9,000 students and more than 60 languages spoken in the home, Kentwood is the most diverse school district in Michigan. The district is embracing its diversity by hosting the EL Parents Academy, designed to show parents how to use the Internet to track their children’s grades and progress in school.

The interpreters simultaneously translated Thompson’s lecture into Rohingya, French, Karen, Hakha Chin, Tedim, Burmese, Spanish, Arabic and Nepali. It was the fifth two-hour workshop in the seven-night program, designed to teach immigrant parents how they can use technology to help their children learn in school.

“We’re not working to overcome the language barrier, but to accommodate it,” said Blair Feldkamp, the principal at Bowen who assisted in the workshop.

Parents and their translators watch as Pam Thompson, administrator for Kentwood Public Schools’ ParentVUE system, explains how to find their children’s grades online

Reaching Out to Immigrant Parents

Sponsored by the Steelcase Foundation, the program hires translators who are fluent in parents’ native languages, provides childcare for the evening, free transportation, a free meal and at the end of the session and gives each family a laptop they can take home.

Thompson, who administers the ParentVue and StudentVue programs, shows parents how to use the online tools to track children’s grades and communicate with teachers and administrators via email.

The site, which is updated by teachers at least once a week, is used by more than 80 percent of Kentwood students from grades 6-12, Thompson said. Showing non-English speaking parents how to use the tools brings them in touch with the opportunities being afforded their children and their performance.

Bawi Them closely followed Thompson’s translated explanation of the site. A Burmese immigrant, Them came to the U.S. in 2016 with her five children, ages 3 to 21. Through her translator, she said she appreciated the opportunity to learn about the schools her children attended.

After Thompson spent the first hour of her lecture showing the features of ParentVue on a wall screen, she and Feldkamp passed out the laptops to give them hands-on experience.

“Remember, you have to be exact when you type in the address. You have to type it in exactly as it’s written on the board,” Feldkamp told the group as Thompson went from table to table to make sure they got connected.

In addition to showing parents how to access their children’s records on ParentVue, Feldkamp also showed them how to access sports scores, athletic schedules and other district events.

Earlier workshops showed the parents how to access the Internet, taught them about Internet safety and Internet fraud and introduced them to the Kentwood Public Schools’ website. Guest lecturers included local police officers and bank administrators.

CONNECT

- Sponsorship -
James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.

LATEST ARTICLES

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

Rain gutter regatta showcases buoyancy, engineering skills

An annual boat race has become a highlight of sixth-grade science class. At stake: bragging rights and 'a goofy trophy'...

The Hood family: a school & community leadership dynasty

Five generations have lived within a five- to six-mile radius dating back to a government work program in the 1930s...

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

For MLK Day, educators discuss improving equity in education

A leading advocate on equity in education says Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy requires educators to dig deeper into making sure all students have what they need to thrive...

Teacher lights science up with creativity

As a child, Wendy Johnson’s curiosity led her to discover her passion for science. Now a ninth-grade biophysics teacher at East Kentwood, her passion transforms the average science class into a hub of student curiosity...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS