Hartford Parent University March 10th held its largest graduation ceremony ever – with 35 parents from the M.D. Fox, Thirman Milner, Simpson-Waverly, and SAND schools completing the Achieve Hartford!-supported No Child Held Back™ program.  This means these parents have taken ownership over their children’s learning, fully understood their role as a partner with the teacher, and built up their skills using personalized learning plans and technology.

For the parents at these four schools completing this program, it also means that now, all parents have a personalized learning plan for their children and a Chromebook tablet for emailing their teachers, checking Powerschool, and accessing online learning resources, along with up to $300 in “solution services” to help their children pursue educational interests or address educational challenges.

Other results from the parents’ participation in the program include:

  • On ability to very confidently support their children’s education, the parent proportion rose from 32 percent before the program to 92 percent after the program;
  • In terms of confidence working with their children’s teachers, parents rating themselves at the top level (being very confident) rose from 28 percent before the program to 96 percent afterwards; and
  • Lastly, the average growth of self-reported knowledge, of what Student Centered Learning is, increased by almost 40 percent for parent participants as a result of this program.

For No Child Held Back Author Yovel Badash, this rite of passage was just the beginning, as it is for all who mark graduation day.  “When you graduate from a university, you start your adult life,” Author Badash told the graduates at The Lyceum.  “So, today is a beginning, not an ending.  From now on, parents can talk with teachers as equal partners.”

Achieve Hartford Executive Director Paul Holzer told the graduates, “This program came together as a result of three organizations coming together – Hartford Parent University, Achieve Hartford! and No Child Held Back™ – and now the ask is of you … to come together with your child and your child’s teachers, because that’s where the magic happens.”

Here is a sampling of views from four of the HPU graduating parents:

  • Samantha Pacheco (SAND) – said the program “has made me a better mother.  Everything I do for my kids is their future – and not only my kids.  All kids.”


  • Stacy Figueroa (Milner) – serves as the secretary of the school’s PTO and, through HPU, learned how to use a Chromebook tablet, access the District’s Parent Portal and understand the options for children with special needs.


  •  Rodney Morton (Simpson-Waverly) – believes the program has empowered him to be a better father; “I didn’t know I had this much power as a parent.”  Moreover, he has been able to help his 13-year-old pursue the IT career he seeks.


  •  Natalie Delgado (M.D. Fox) – appreciates the fact that her program experience has helped her to guide her two daughters with special needs, as “many doors opened” through the experience.  She encouraged all parents to look vigorously for help.

“I see so much growth,” HPU Executive Director Milly Arciniegas told the graduates.  “And now, you’re on a better path.”  But it hasn’t been easy for parents, she noted, stressing that when 10 parents at one school logged into Powerschool, they found academic data missing for their children, and in two other schools, Powerschool was not even set up with the children in the system.  “We know there are many times when a school reports difficulty in communicating with parents, and now we know that there are times, too, when a parent reaches out to make contact and has difficulty.  It’s a process – and forming a partnership takes time,” she said.

Most remarkable, she said, have been the advancements made by her parent coaches, who have become increasingly knowledgeable about the nuances of School Governance Councils, services for English Language Learners, and procedures for obtaining support for children with disabilities.

“The work that the coaches have done has been inspiring for me,” Mr. Badash told the graduates, “because, by teaching you learn, and the coaches have gained the ability to impact so many more parents’ lives throughout Hartford.  For the 35 graduates who worked with the parent coaches, they can now deal with the school system in an effective way.”

Here is the Hartford Parent University No Child Held Back™ graduation information online.