The Elementary School decided to take a new approach to welcoming kindergarteners and their families to Holley Elementary School this year. During August, members of the kindergarten teaching team and support staff traveled in small groups to visit incoming students in their homes. Their goal was to introduce themselves and provide resources so that students starting school in September would recognize friendly faces, ensuring a smoother transition to a full day of school. They also hoped to form a stronger connection with parents to help increase parental involvement in each student’s education.
First grade teacher Tara Grillo devised this new program. Earlier this summer, families were mailed a letter inviting them to contact the Main Office to set appointments for their home visits. Grillo worked with Principal Karri Schiavone and the kindergarten team to create goodie bags. Each string bag was filled with a t-shirt for the student, a folder with forms to be completed for this school year, a parent handbook and a student workbook. These bags were brought to every home visit and reviewed with families. The groups also collected information about incoming students during each visit.
Each kindergarten outreach group also tried to drop in on families who had not set an appointment; this method helped groups meet several more families. For those that were not at home, a door hanger was left behind with information on how to schedule a visit. This tactic worked to elicit responses from those they had not previously been able to reach. Overall, outreach groups were able to meet with 72 percent of kindergarteners and their families.
While students did not necessarily meet their assigned kindergarten teacher, they met members of the team, which included four teachers, three teacher’s aides, the principal, the assistant principal, the elementary social worker and counselor. Teams reported they felt welcomed by families during their visits. Feedback received from families was positive, with many responding that they were impressed the elementary school staff cared enough to visit students at home. Grillo was pleased with this year’s outreach efforts and hopes to refine the program to be rolled out again next summer.