Massena teachers meeting with families prior to school
Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 6:02 pm

BY CHERYL SHUMWAY

North Country This Week

MASSENA – Even though school doesn’t start for another few weeks, most incoming Massena Central kindergarteners and seventh graders have already met their new teachers.

About 60% of the district families with students entering those new grades have participated in the new ‘Family Home Visits’ program this summer.

The program offers each family the opportunity to meet with their child’s teacher at the family’s home or elsewhere if they wished, such as the library or Tim Hortons.

Kristin Colarusso-Martin, the district’s Community Schools coordinator, started the new initiative after a grant from the New York State United Teachers was obtained.

“The family visits allow parents and students to ask questions they may have and to share the hopes and dreams for their child. Also, teachers can explain what to expect in the new grade,” she said.

It helps students feel more comfortable with the new transition and alleviate fears “such as getting lost or forgetting their locker combination,” she said.

“The 20 teachers and counselors who made up the teacher-team visits gave positive feedback,” she reported.

“Other than getting to meet the sweetest 28 faces, home visits allowed me to become familiar with parents ahead of the school year,” said kindergarten teacher Amanda Taraska.

“Now that our visits are complete, I see some of the families out in our community. We say hello, and chat about their child. It’s a great connection that has already been made. It’s an established trusted foundation to start our year.”

Anna Hendershot, a special education, said, “It was really nice to connect to parents outside of school. I have seen several of them in the community since home visits and they immediately greeted me with a smile. I think the connections we created by meeting with families will continue throughout the school year and beyond.”

A junior high teacher, after meeting a shy student, said the visit provided an opportunity to talk about the clubs available at school, Colarusso said.

There will be a meeting in September to evaluate the new family home visit program.

“Some teachers have already said they were looking forward to doing it again next year,” said Colarusso-Martin.