Eighty-nine parents who recently completed the first parent academy in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 participated in a graduation ceremony at Diamondhead Education Center on May 18.
The academy, named FIRE (Family Involvement for a Rich Education), included parents from Sky Oaks Elementary, Nicollet Junior High and Burnsville High School.
Moms and dads, originally from Somalia and Spanish-speaking countries, met once a week for eight weeks to learn about the American educational system and how they can support their children’s learning at school and home. The goal is to form a stronger partnership of parents and school staff that will benefit students and their academic success.
“Filled with new knowledge and tools, your participation in the FIRE Academy conveys strong convictions about the hopes and dreams you have for your children’s education and future,” Superintendent Joe Gothard told parents at the ceremony. “Our goal is to reduce historical gaps in achievement. When we look at student’s race, socioeconomic level or English language proficiency, we have one strong message — all students can learn and succeed, and it is our collective responsibility to guide our children towards making the most of their educational opportunities.”
FIRE Academy sessions were led by four of the district’s bilingual cultural liaisons who serve as vital links between families and schools. The academy included topics such as navigating the school system, the importance of grade point averages, how to plan for college, advocating for your child, and more.
At the graduation ceremony, parents shared about their deep trust for schools, literally seeing them as a "second home," how they understand so much more about school and know how they can help prepare their children for college. Another parent emphasized the importance of speaking with her children’s teachers and counselors and using SchoolView, the district’s parent portal.
“I have personally heard from numerous parents about just how much the program has empowered them and I see many benefits for our students coming out of this,” said Dr. Stacie Stanley, the district’s director of equity. “It’s exciting to see these new parent leaders with their increased confidence and understanding.”
She said that next year more parents will be involved in FIRE at Sky Oaks Elementary, Nicollet Junior High and Burnsville High School, and the parent academy will expand to Gideon Pond, Hidden Valley and Marion W. Savage elementary schools.