Cape teachers visit communities, build relationships

Goal to show support, raise minority student test scores
December 9, 2019

A group of Cape Henlopen educators is connecting with parents in an effort to raise minority students’ test scores.

Cape High literacy enrichment teacher Karen Maull said she attended a conference last summer called Leaders for Just Schools, where presenters discussed equity for students and building relationships with parents.

Maull, who is also chair of the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee for both the district and state teachers’ unions, said the conference inspired her to find ways to help improve minority student test scores.

“I thought if we could get into the communities and make connections with parents, that could be one way to show we support them,” Maull said. “If we want to change what the data says about children of color, we must do things differently. We can’t expect parents to come to us; we thought we’d try going to them.”

Maull said the committee first met at Burton Village in Rehoboth, where they were aided by neighborhood children who were eager to escort committee members to homes with children in the Cape district.

“We broke into two groups,” Maull said. “Each one started on opposite ends of the neighborhood and worked toward each other, knocking on doors until we met.”

The committee passed out sunglasses and bracelets to children, and Cape cups and contact information to parents.

“We thanked parents for letting us serve their children and let them know we’re here to help,” Maull said. 

During a visit to West Side New Beginnings in West Rehoboth, Cape teachers helped students with homework and met with parents. Maull said she hopes more children will take advantage of the free after-school enrichment program in their community. 

Cape paraprofessional Mary Thomas said she enjoyed meeting parents and working with students outside of the classroom.

“We want parents to feel a level of comfort that our district is here to support them however we can, and that we care,” Thomas said. “Getting parents involved can help bridge the gap because they can tell their children it matters to come to school and do your absolute best.”

Cape Assistant Superintendent Jenny Nauman traveled with the committee to Jefferson Apartments in Lewes.

“To make sure all students get what they need to be successful, it takes a village,” Nauman said. “Going door-to-door is one way we are working to make connections with families to close the achievement gap at Cape. An all-hands-on-deck approach that includes district and building administrators, teachers, families and the community will only make our schools stronger and benefit our students.”

Maull said the committee members also supported an outreach effort at Love Creek Elementary, which hosted African American fun night Nov. 15. The committee served dinner and assisted with childcare.

“We are focused on doing what we can to ensure all kids do their best,” Maull said. “Getting families involved lets them know that help and support is here and we genuinely care about their children.”

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