Royal Oak Schools launch ‘Parent University’ to educate community on diversity, equity and inclusion topics

‘You learn things in school, whatever those things are, and then you go home and it’s not reinforced’

The school will use feedback from parents to discover future topics for the Parent University.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – There’s a new program at Royal Oak Schools where the parents are the students.

Parent University is an online program aimed to help parents tackle key issues about diversity, equity and inclusion. The program is open to the entire community.

It was Dr. Kimberly Martin, the school district’s first diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, that came up with the idea. She started working at Royal Oak Schools this school year and said parents are critical to their children’s’ success.

“You learn things in school, whatever those things are, and then you go home and it’s not reinforced. It’s like it didn’t happen,” Martin said.

Parents, guardians, any adult in the community can join sessions once a month. The first class focuses on how to talk to kids about race. Oakland Schools’ diversity and equity consultant, Dr. Jay Marks is teaching the class.

There are about 150 people already registered, one of them is Tiffany Vosburg. She is a PTA president for Oak Ridge Elementary and has two kids in the school district.

“I want to know how to talk to my kids about this. It’s such a change from what we’ve grown up with, that it’s time to learn something new,” said Vosburg.

Another parent, Coleen Geanette was excited to hear about the new program.

“We assume that we know more than we do and there are things I’m constantly learning even as an adult,” said Geanette.

As the adults attend those lessons get passed down to their kids.

“Even as a teenager, there’s always some things you’re a little nervous to talk to your parents about so if your parents are making the effort to learn how to talk to you I think that will help the students overall,” Geanette said.

Dr. Martin said each month is a different topic. They’ll use feedback from parents to know what subject to teach next.

“We have changed so much and COVID really also has helped propel that. That we need to open ourselves up to new things and looking at it and saying this was the past. That OK, we’re not the past. We’re going to learn from it and we’re going to move forward,” Vosburg said.

Click here to register for Royal Oak Schools’ Parent University.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.