NFL star and Detroit Public Schools alumnus Jerome Bettis, alongside DPS Superintendent of Academics Karen Ridgeway, announced Thursday a partnership to support a brand new parent engagement initiative on behalf of his "The Bus Stops Here Foundation." The Foundation and DPS will support training for five parents from 89 schools (445 parents), to become certified members of their schools' new Parent Advisory Councils on Student Achievement, or PAC-SA, with the end goal of improving student achievement.
IMAGES: Jerome Bettis donates from his 'Bus Stops Here Foundation' to DPS
Bettis, a graduate of Mackenzie High School, was greeted by a bus load of parents from Barton and Parker Schools before taking a tour of the new $21.8 million Mackenzie PreK to 8 School located on the same campus where he began his football career. Barton and Parker students will feed into the new Mackenzie when it opens this fall.
"Giving back to the community that helped me so much"
"This training program is my way of giving back to a school and community that helped me out so much, and we feel it is an excellent opportunity to make a positive change in many families' lives by helping them gain the tools they need to improve their children's achievement," Bettis said. "Football is a dream to some. But it should not be the means to an end but instead a beginning. That's why I stress the importance of having an educational background to succeed in life."
"The Bus Stops Here Foundation"
Bettis, nicknamed "The Bus" for his stellar NFL career as a former running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which won Super Bowl XL in 2006 in Detroit, established his foundation in 1996 to help improve the quality of life for disadvantaged and underprivileged children.
"While many recent studies report that focused parental involvement supports teaching and learning in making the job easier for all, we believe that our parents will benefit from instruction and professional training as they become proficient in how best to engage with their children and schools," Superintendent Ridgeway said. "The PAC-SA model is based on current research showing that family involvement matters and can produce improvements at school, such as better learning outcomes, fewer disciplinary issues, enhanced teacher-student and parent-child relationships, better attendance and higher grades and test scores."
Research also indicates that there are some practices that must take place at home that will increase achievement, including making sure children get to school on time every day, rewarding children for their efforts and internalizing the idea of going to college, Ridgeway said.
In a process being developed jointly with parents, the following criteria have been established for parents who wish to become certified PAC-SA members:
· Receive 20 hours of professional training in the areas of data analysis, building a positive school culture and climate, Title I parental involvement, presentation skills, conducting professional meetings and conflict resolution;
· Establish a focus on the academic improvement of all students in the school;
· Use data related to academic performance to provide informed suggestions to the school leadership;
· Build the capacity in all interested adults to support the efforts of the school, its students, teachers and leadership.
About Mackenzie PreK to 8 School
Mackenzie PreK to 8 School is one of three DPS new-construction schools to be completed for the 2012-13 school year, a more than $100 million investment that will provide some 3,000 students with brand new learning environments and replace older facilities. The three schools are among the 18 construction projects that are part of the $500.5 million DPS Capital Improvement Program.
The new $21.8 million Mackenzie PreK to 8 School will include a large open media center serving the needs of the school's middle and elementary students. The building design will focus on student safety and will be environmentally-responsible through the adherence to national standards set by CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The minimum goal is set at a Silver LEED Certification.
About DPS Parent and Community Engagement
DPS believes that having actively engaged parents is critical to improving student achievement.
Parent and Community Engagement initiatives, which are geared to helping DPS increase parent involvement, include training camps that focus on parenting, fun and engaging workshops and much more. Detroit Public Schools, through a performance-driven partnership with Detroit Parent Network, also operates eight parent resource centers that are comfortable spaces for parents and guardians to meet. The centers, which are geographically placed across the city, provide training and resources to parents of DPS students, helping them be involved in their children's education. This Title I initiative was developed with input from parents and guardians, community leaders and the Detroit Parent Network. It is funded, in part, with a three-year $1.2 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.