The Hartford Parent University (HPU) graduation of 49 parents at The Lyceum Monday brought forward eight newly trained facilitators, coaches, mentors and college students along with City leaders to exhort them to take stands, stick to their goals, and never give up. It was a significant step forward for Hartford parent engagement.
HPU Executive Director Milly Arciniegas emphasized that since 2012, when HPU launched, no one knew how big it might become. The theme of engaging parents evolved into empowering parents – and now is gravitating toward mobilizing parents. City Councilwoman (and HPU Board Member) Cynthia Jennings demarcated parents as the most important part of the school system. “The parents need to run the school system on behalf of their children,” she said. “Understand that you own the street.”
Here is the video of the graduation program.
A sampling of the event’s highlights includes:
- Be the Change. Parent Jane Russell’s commentary was about how she raised her three sons – and received encouragement from Ms. Arciniegas to run for the PTO at Burns and later get involved in HPU. These experiences taught her about parent rights and the ways to be involved in her children’s schools (at the 23:30 mark of the video). “Be a part of the change in your child’s school,” she urged the graduates.
- Engage. Her son, CT State University Junior Joshua Rosario, offered advice on how parents can engage in their children’s learning – and the difference it can make for children feeling worthless – at times of considering dropping out … or being bullied or homeless (at the 33:09 mark of the video).
- Mentor. His mentor, Achieve Hartford! Lead Writer Kent Ashworth, urged parents and siblings to not be totally self-sacrificial of themselves for their family, and to finish post-secondary school (at the 29:55 mark of the video).
- Keep an Open Mind. “Imagine being homeless but still encouraging your children,” Councilwoman Jennings said. HPU Facilitator Richard Afaawua offered views on “Race and Understanding,” (at the 39:13 mark of the video). Calm down, put yourself in others’ shoes, find, look around, be where they are at, research, then you can understand it better, he recommended. “We need to understand each other, no matter where we are coming from, no matter the race,” he implored.
The Bottom Line
Hartford Parent University has exceeded the expectations of its founders by opening up an avenue (now a boulevard and headed to become a super-highway), with an on-ramp for parents hard-pressed but determined. We recognize – and Hartford needs – their success.