Education column: Cameo aims to connect with parents

It seems that Thanksgiving brings to mind families more than most holidays. Being together as families is not always easy, but it is important.

Cameo Elementary is connecting with families big-time these days. Not only are parents welcome, Cameo is actively seeking their involvement.

As principal, Tony Igo, shared: “We know the more that parents are involved, the greater the student achievement. It’s important that we establish that trust with families to get their commitment to student educational goals. That’s what we’ve been doing, and we’ve started seeing great results.”

A principal for 25 years, Igo emanates a warm, friendly and welcoming spirit that has permeated Cameo.

“We’ve got to connect with families to let them know that we really want them here,” he said.

Not only is there a parent center run by parent liaison Rebecca Harrell, federal programs family liaisons Raymond Beachum and Diana McGhee are active in helping to build those bridges between the school and families.

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of a number of evening activities planned throughout the year, “Cameo Connecting with Families.” When asked about the number of evening events scheduled, Igo said, “Evening events just bring parents out more readily.”

Seems like he’s right, because close to 300 visitors attended that evening.

Parents gathered in various classrooms depending on their student’s grade level, then rotated to the next location, where interactive presentations were conducted by teachers and other staff.

Julie Howell, Cameo’s instructional coach, demonstrated number literacy, which provides alternative strategies for attacking math problems. Cameo teachers introduced Imagine-It, a comprehensive reading program used district-wide that addresses the five key areas of reading instruction.

Teresa Falk, technology program specialist, and Luanne Rolley, Cameo lab manager, demonstrated the SuccessMaker reading and math software by having parents and students logging onto computers to work through actual sessions. Family Services liaison Raymond Beachum conducted fun team-building exercises with visiting parents and talked about available family services.

There were even students from Clovis High School and the Freshman Academy helping out that evening. Refreshments and door prizes concluded the evening; these included several donated bikes and family-oriented items, such as board games to encourage family activities at home.

Earlier, this year’s Fall Carnival was a huge success. The recent first and second grade music program, organized by music teacher Wenjun Wang was another big winner, with standing room only in the school’s cafeteria. Coming up are more events, like the popular Bingo For Books.

Good things are happening at Cameo; parents are involved, volunteering more, and student discipline problems are few and far between these days. There was 100 percent response during parent and teacher conferences, when state test results were shared with parents, which by the way, showed Cameo’s third and fourth grade reading and math scores as some of the highest in the district.

Arnold Glasow noted, “The best thing to spend on children is your time.” Sounds to me like that is what’s happening at Cameo Elementary.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org.