Parent Power & Student Power
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
DECEMBER 9, 2019 – Leona Gligoroski is 4½. One day, she would like to meet a unicorn.
On Thursday night, Leona met the next-best thing – Ready Freddy, the frog mascot who focuses on helping children get ready for kindergarten.
At the latest Parent Power: The Power of Us! event held Dec. 5 at Kaleideum North, young people and their families had the opportunity to learn and to have fun.
Along with a visit by Ready Freddy, the night offered many possibilities. People could get an update on applying to schools for next year. They could listen to a panel on what parents and students in middle and high school need to know about staying safe on the Internet. They could participate in discussion about the importance of talking about feelings.
A number of community groups, such as the Forsyth County Library and The Forsyth Promise, had set up tables outside the planetarium so they could also learn more about what those groups offer. The members of Varsity Cheering Squad at North Forsyth High and coach Gary Robinson were also on hand.
Sharon Frazier, the Program Manager for Parent/Family Engagement organized the event, which started with a meal for everyone.
Wanting to learn more, Verka Gligoroski and her friend, Evgenija Kjuka, brought their children. Before staying home to take care of twins Danielle and Brooklyn, who are 5, Kjuka worked as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at such elementary schools as Easton, Whitaker and Lewisville. These days, she teaches at Forsyth Technical Community College.
As it happens, from Gligoroski’s point of view, Leona already knows a unicorn. Because her husband, Igor, is so nice, she likes to think of him as a unicorn.
After the girls finished up their supper, they zipped here and there and checked in with Ready Freddy. When she’s not being Ready Freddy, Maria Torres is the bilingual parent assistant at North Forsyth High.
When it was time for the formal program to begin, a number of people headed to the auditorium, where Frazier welcomed everyone.
“It takes all of us to make sure that all of our students are successful,” she said. “It goes beyond a job – it’s a calling.”
She then introduced Homan Atashbar, the Director of Student Assignment. The timetable for applying to magnet schools and other schools has changed from previous years. After explaining the details, Atashbar invited people to call the Student Assignment office if they had any questions.
Next up was a panel called “Internet Safety: What Teens and Parents Need to Know”that was organized by Kathy FitzJeffries, the Program Manager Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
After the Parent Power event, Frazier had this to say:
“Each time that families, educators, and our students come together for a Parent Power event, I see how important it is to continue to offer opportunities for us to work together...talking and listening to one another, to understand and address issues and challenges.
“Tonight, I saw parents, students, teachers, school and district administrators, fully engaged in conversations and learning activities.”
“It was disappointing that we did not have the large numbers that we have had in the past when we are at Kaleideum North, but those who attended said that while they didn't know what to expect, the evening exceeded their expectations. The ask of the evening was that we have another one sooner rather than later.”
“Parent Power, which is due for a name change because we are providing more sessions and activities for students, is truly a collaborative effort that relies on the collective knowledge, skills, passion, and commitment to ensure that every Winston-Salem/Forsyth County student is successful in school and in life.”
Here is what Kathy Fitzjefferies wrote about the panel on Internet Safety:
On Thursday evening, students and their families gathered at the Parent Power: The Power of Us! for a panel discussion on Internet Safety. The panel, which included experts from our schools and community, warned about hidden apps, provided suggestions for applications to monitor phones, shared concerns about cyberbullying, and alerts to the issue of sexting.
Sgt. Michael Knight of the Winston-Salem Police Department provided information on the legal ramifications when inappropriate photos are posted by teens. Panel member Naji Gaskins-Brown, a student from Carver’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), reminded the audience to be mindful that colleges and employers will investigate applicant social media profiles. This concern was echoed by Sonya Withers, who indicated that some colleges require college applicants to share their social media passwords to view their social media profiles.
LaQuisha Henry-Linder, Assistant Principal of North Forsyth High School, spoke on how community conflicts related to social media post can spill over into the school. Audience members had an opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns related to internet safety.
After the panel discussion, the students continued to address these issues in a workshop session. Panel participants Kristen Daukas, parent and Internet Safety Advocate, along with Johnai Myers, Carver High School AOIT Coordinator, assisted Kathy FitzJefferies of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in the facilitation of this lively discussion.
Students discussed strategies to avoid social media drama and the importance of alerting adults to cyberbullying. The group also discussed the dangers of accessing drugs over the Internet. Students voiced their appreciation for the opportunity to talk about Internet safety. A panel and discussion group will be scheduled to follow up on the students’ request to focus on stress management and mental health.
Safe and Drug-Free Schools is appreciative of our panelists and all those who participated in this program For more information on Internet Safety and Cyberbullying please contact Kathy FitzJefferies, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program Manager at Kathy FitzJefferies or 336-703-6730.
If you have any concerns about bullying or other misconduct please contact the school, or if you prefer, make an anonymous Bully Patrol & Tip Line report via the district’s mobile app or the quick link found on the district and schools homepage. You can also use the Bully Patrol & Tip Line hotline at (336)703-4193.