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Parent University focuses on Reading Readiness, School Safety

February 24, 2018

More than 100 parents, dozens of school representatives and community partners packed Bloomingdale High School for Parent University. The free conference provided information to families to help children in PreK-12 succeed.

“The accountability that's on our schools and in our classrooms every single day is pretty intense,” said Superintendent Jeff Eakins. “In order to create great performance for our students, it takes all of the right resources. It takes great educators. It takes all of the support staff, all working in tandem to ultimately create great results for our students.”

Guests visited the Resource Café and talked with representatives from schools and community organizations. Participants selected from 13 different sessions from Early Childhood to Post-Secondary Education.

Part of the conference focused on the importance of early reading as the foundation to get students on the path to graduation.

“What we do know is that reading readiness is so important. It can make a huge difference whether students graduate on time,” said Area 5 Superintendent, Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald.  “Our students who are on track in kindergarten, first grade, third grade: 91 percent graduate on time.”

Ernest Hooper, columnist for the Tampa Bay Times was the guest speaker, along with his 25-year-old son, Matt Hooper. Ernest Hooper encouraged parents to promote reading with the three E’s: Engage, Encourage and Explore.

“Not only does having your child ready to read by kindergarten improve their chances of graduating from high school, but it also makes them less likely to get arrested or run into criminal trouble. It makes them less likely to experiment with drugs. It makes them less likely to have to deal with childhood obesity,” Hooper said.

Just days after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Superintendent Eakins addressed students’ safety, security measures in place across the district, staff training, and scheduled lock-down and evacuation drills.

“We want to help you as a parent feel like your child is completely secure throughout their day, knowing that during that time our teachers and our staff are giving the very best education possible to help get those results that we know you want as a parent,” Eakins said.

Parent University is offered several times per year through a partnership with Alliance for Public Schools, Hillsborough County Public Schools, United Way and Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.

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