A collaboration between staff, administration and parents
is a recipe for success! “When schools, families,
and community groups work together to support learning
children tend to do better in school. They stay in
school longer and are more likely to enjoy the benefits
of the educational process.” That is the conclusion
of a recent report from the Southwest Educational
Development Laboratory. The report a synthesis of
research on parent involvement over the past decade
goes on to find that regardless of family income or
background “students with involved parents are more
Earn higher grades on test scores and
enroll in higher-level programs;
Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn
Attend school regularly;
Have better social skills, show improved
behavior, and adapt well to school; and
Graduate and go to post-secondary education
The Detroit Service Learning Academy located on
Detroit’s west side is home to more than 1,200 students.
DSLA has successfully created a culture of
engagement and involvement through events created
to incite and stimulate parent interest. One of these
events is the implementation of Parent University.
The Academy is the host of several of these events
throughout the year. These informative workshops
help participants learn to develop skills and strategies
that promote healthy living, financial management, legal
advice, political awareness, and more. In addition
to these forums DSLA provides a welcome space for
parent volunteers and the PTA. The parent resource
room is furnished with a microwave, two computers
with internet access, and a meeting table. This space
is exclusively open for parents to use daily.
DSLA’s most successful event of the year was the
celebration of National African American Parent Involvement
Day held on February 13, 2014. This event
was promoted to the students as “Bring your Parent
to School Day” and was the 5th annual celebration.
Students were asked to bring their Parent to school
with them to experience a full day of classes. Parents
convened at the noon hour for a catered lunch,
special guest speakers, and a raffle for a family of 4 to
vacation at Kalahari Resort. This affair had over 253
parents in attendance.
Over the last decade parent participation and programs
at DSLA are always a work in progress. Every
school has a unique population, focus and mission.
Finding an effective mix of activities, incentives, and
student /staff buy- in has become one of the Academy’s
most challenging best practices.
Impact in the real world...
What made Rachel's Lake Superior State experience so unique was the practical research she did with top-notch faculty.
"I really enjoyed working with environmental chemistry professor Judy Westrick and biologist Deb Stai," Rachel says. "For my senior project, we evaluated a lab method for cultivating a fungus that causes infections in humans."