March 24, 2023 -- A group of Columbus City Schools employees is working to bridge the information gap experienced by some of the District’s westside families. Family ambassadors from the four Region I middle schools, Wedgewood, Hilltonia, Westmoor, and Starling PreK-8, host monthly informational meetings for families to keep them informed and engaged with their child’s schooling.
“We felt like the middle schools could use some additional support,” Vanessa Savage, Wedgewood’s family ambassador, explained. “We decided to band together in the westside and have a parent family group where they can come each month and get resources.”
The result was the Westside Connection Middle School Family Support Group. Jackie Newton, the family ambassador at Starling, said parents aren’t always aware of the opportunities available to them. The group combats this by providing easy access to pertinent information and resources.
“We are reaching out to the families, and a lot of times during those calls, they mention barriers they may be facing,” Newton explained. “We use a lot of different resources to tailor our groups to what the families need.”
The meetings center around what families express interest in learning more about. Previous topics include navigating their child’s Parent Portal and discussing programming available through the local YMCA.
The group schedules its meetings to ensure all families can attend. The monthly meetings are held at different times of the day to accommodate various schedules. The April meeting will be on Zoom so families can attend without venturing to a specific location.
Along with information, food is provided at the in-person meetings, and families often have the chance to take home books for their students to keep. Sahro Amin, a family ambassador at Hilltonia, said the events are well-received, and families appreciate the connections they form with CCS staff members.
“The feedback we were getting from both the families and the counselors who come to the events is, ‘This is beautiful; thank you all for doing this.’ Everybody is really grateful,” Amin said.