Groups urge parents to get involved at school

Two days before the start of school, 40 Parent-Teacher Associations from the Richmond County school system gathered Saturday to encourage parents to get involved with their child's education.

"Student achievement won't go up just with what happens at school," Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden said at the event. "Parents will be the first educator a child sees."

The Community Wide PTA, organized by the Richmond County Council of PTAs and the Taking Back the Streets organization, featured information booths for every Richmond County school PTA except two.

The inaugural event, held at the Augusta State University Athletic Complex, was part of a new initiative to keep parents involved throughout the school year.

Barbara Seigler, the president of the county council of PTAs, said parental involvement has been low the past eight years. The council wants to engage parents in a "positive way."

Together with Title I, a national program that funds grants for low-income schools, the council will sponsor parent workshops each month at selected schools.

"Hopefully, by the end of the year we will see a great improvement in the grades, the discipline," Ms. Seigler said.

Angela Colbert signed up for the Glenn Hills Middle School PTA at Saturday's meeting. Ms. Colbert had never joined a PTA, but she said she wants to become more involved at her daughter's school.

"I think children, parents, and teachers all need to play a big part," she said. "Parenting and teaching go hand-in-hand."

District 9 school board representative Venus Cain was excited to see parents at the meeting.

"PTAs are the backbone of the schools. They set the mood, the tone, the environment," she said.

Information on the community group Dads in Action, tutoring services and other student resources also were available at the event. School supplies were given away, and parents who signed up for PTA were entered in a raffle for more supplies.

Reach Meg Mirshak at (706) 828-2946 or meg.mirshak@augustachronicle.com.