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September 25, 2013

BPS promotes parent participation with upcoming events

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM— Now that the kids are finally settled back into the classroom, it’s time for parents to head back to school.

Well, at least for a couple of days.

Throughout the year, the Birmingham Public School District hosts several events to get parents up to speed on what’s going on at school. Right now, the district is wrapping up a Parent/Guardian K-8 Math Overview. The one-day workshop Sept. 25 offered parents a glimpse at the new math curriculum, as well as materials, being taught this year in BPS classrooms.

But there are plenty more ways for proactive parents to get involved this school year. The next chance is coming up this Saturday, with the first-ever ParentCamp.

According to organizer Becky Brady, a PTA mom with kids at Berkshire Middle School and Beverly Elementary, the camp was inspired by a similar event held for educators at Oakland University. The idea, she said, is to put parents in front of school administrators and teachers for a two-way discussion on topics pertinent to BPS families.

“It’s a one-stop shop for parents to get information, but specific to Birmingham. That’s the one piece I wanted to focus on. How Birmingham specifically handles a topic — it’s something you can’t Google,” said Brady.

From 7:30 a.m.-noon Sept. 28, parents are invited to come together at the Birmingham Education and Administration Center to participate in discussion groups with BPS Superintendent Daniel Nerad, Board of Education President Steve Scheidt, as well as select principals and teachers from around the district. The keynote speaker will be Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch, who will explain why public education is not failing in her eyes.

“Our parents want this. It’s kind of like ‘Build it, and they will come.’ They want to be a part of this, and it’s one way — a unique way — to offer this to our parents,” said Brady. “I think it’s going to be well received.”

Registration for ParentCamp 2013 is free and can be completed online at bpspar entcamp2013.eventbrite.com. To see updates on the event, you can follow @BPSParentCamp13 on Twitter.

Looking ahead, the group Community Education Through Collaboration and Communication will host a panel discussion with BPS and city leaders to discuss positive things going on in the Birmingham community.

“It’s important to take time to reflect on the many wonderful things going on in our community. It’s important to celebrate all the good things going on,” said BPS Director of Community Relations Marcia Wilkinson in an email. “We often seem to focus only on the challenges, but focusing on the opportunities gives us a fresh and energizing perspective.”

The panel discussion will begin at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 17 with a continental breakfast, followed by remarks from speakers like Nerad and Scheidt, as well as Birmingham Principal Shopping District Director John Heiney, and Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel COO John North.

The presentation is being called “A Slice of Life in Our Community,” and it will be hosted at the BPS Education and Administration Center. The event is just one of four community-focused events that CECAC holds each year.

“CECAC provides thought-provoking programs that engage the community in dialogue and collaboration,” Wilkinson explained in her email about the group, which comprises district officials and local nonprofits.

To RSVP for “A Slice of Life in Our Community,” email Jennifer Brown at jb18bps@birmingham.k12.mi.us.

For more information on these and other events, visit Birmingham.k12.mi.us. The BPS Education and Administration Center is located at 31301 Evergreen Road in Beverly Hills.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.