School liaison will work with parents

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Escambia County school officials have long maintained the notion that a student’s academic success is directly related to the continued involvement of parents and guardians.

In an effort to help parents become more involved — and more informed — in the child’s education, Escambia County High School Principal Zickeyous Byrd has named a parent organizer for the school.

Jonathan Barnes, who was already on staff at ECHS, has had the responsibility of parent organizer added to his current duties, Byrd said.

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“Mr. Barnes has taken on some additional responsibilities to his already full plate,” Byrd said. “Now, he has been given the extra duties of serving as parent organizer.”

Byrd said the position is one that will promote and improve active parent/family and community involvement in the school system.

“The work Mr. Barnes will do will help to assist parents in developing effective strategies to nurture opportunities for their child’s success,” Byrd said. “I can’t think of another person that can be more effective in this position other than Mr. Barnes.”

Barnes, who began his work at ECHS in August, came to the school by way of Escambia County Middle School. The additional work is a challenge he says he is ready to tackle.

“I’m very optimistic about what we can accomplish,” Barnes said. “I believe that parents need to be involved in the process of their child’s education. I am here to do what I can to let parents know what their options are and what they can do to help their child achieve success in school and in their future.”

Barnes said the first focus of his position as parent organizer will be to rebuild trust in parents and the community for the school system.

“I want to build the trust in parents and this community that we are here to help their children succeed,” Barnes said. “These are their children and they need to know what’s going on with them. I want them to know that they can trust us here at the school to look out for the best interest of the students.”

Along with working to inform parents of educational options for their children, Barnes said he will also be working to encourage improved attendance among students.

“Our attendance is not where it should be,” Barnes said. “With parents being so busy sometimes they have to leave for work before the student leaves for school. We see students who get to school, but come late. Some don’t come at all. We want to work with parents and students to improve those situations where we can.”

Barnes said his job as attendance clerk will work hand-in-hand with his new position.

“When a child isn’t at school, they can’t learn,” Barnes said. “We will monitor attendance and alert parents when there is a problem whether it is tardiness, excessive or unexcused absences. We will even be doing some home visits if necessary.”

Byrd said Barnes’ new position is one that will allow parents a point of contact for issues concerning their children’s attendance and academic opportunities.

“ECHS is dedicated to maintaining a positive and productive relationship with our families,” Byrd said. “We are excited that Mr. Barnes has accepted these duties. He is well known in the community and has already performed many of these duties in the past. He will share information with parents in a one-on-one atmosphere and ensure that they fully understand what it takes for their child to be successful.”

Byrd said Barnes’ duties will be a bridge between the school system and the parents to help create more involvement for the benefit of the students.

“We are just trying to make sure that we bridge the gap between school and home,” Byrd said. “We can’t be successful without parental support. We want to make sure that we are addressing all of our parental needs.”

Barnes said parents can learn more about student success and options by attending the school’s PTO meeting scheduled for Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. Guests at the meeting will include John Robert Fountain, a juvenile probation officer in the county, as well as officials from the district attorney’s office and other organizations. To schedule a meeting with Barnes concerning questions or issues on student success, contact him at ECHS by calling 368-9181.

Escambia County High School recently named Jonathan Barnes as the school’s parent organizer.|Photo by Lisa Tindell