The National Education Association claims, "When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more."
A group of parents at Sheffield Area Middle Senior High School are working to prove that point.
"The Academic Support Group of SAMHS is a newly-formed group of dedicated parents looking for ways to support academics," SAMHS Principal Amy Beers said. "They function very much like a PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization.)"
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Sheffield students Mya Grubbs and Faite Smith sing during a lock-in held on Jan. 19 held at Sheffield Area Middle High School.
And they are meeting a need that has been void for sometime.
"For years, SAMHS has been without a functioning Parent/Teacher Organization," Beers said. As a result, this group of parents have established the group to "support teachers in any that they can."
To start, they approached the principals and the teaching staff and asked them for wish lists. From there, the planning and fundraising began.
"The idea of this group is that teachers work hard enough and dedicate enough of their own personal time and money already," Beers said. "In honor of this, when teachers arrived at school on Monday for their in-service day, they were greeted by brightly colored gift bags full of wish list items that they had requested from the Academic Support Group. All who asked, received."
She added, "You almost need a crystal ball to anticipate the student needs and teachable moments that will occur in your classroom year to year. The items that were bought...were things that teachers are typically dipping into their own pockets to purchase especially at this time of year."
Some of the items included educational games, sealable plastic bags bags, house paint, heavy-duty staplers, Kleenex, globes, high-quality markers and paints and brushes, among other things.
But the focus isn't just on the teachers. The Academic Support Group is also facilitating events that benefit the students.
"Their most recent endeavor was a middle school lock-in," Beers said. "On January 19, over half of the middle schoolers stayed overnight at the school." Pizza, snacks, doughnuts, a DJ, movies and a Just Dance competition on the Wii highlighted the event. "The gymnasium was used all evening and until the early morning hours for planned activities and some unstructured fun," she added.
The Academic Support Group is continuing to plan other events for students, including field trips, as well as additional ways to support teachers. According to Beers, they will be reaching out to businesses and community members for their participation.
"Every penny that they earn will go directly to classrooms in the form of unique supplies and opportunities for the students at SAMHS," said Beers.
"It's just another way that a community can come together to help one another," she added. "The faculty, staff and students feel lucky to have their support and look forward to a long-standing relationship that is student-focused."