Yorkshire Elementary School celebrates Parents as Educational Partners graduates
Posted on 12/19/2019
Yorkshire PEP Class of 2019

Families and friends recently filed into Yorkshire Elementary School for an evening of acknowledgement and celebration, an event designed to recognize the accomplishments of some very special students. Over the course of eight weeks, 22 parents attended night classes twice-a-week, with more than half completing the requirements of the Prince William County Schools English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Parents as Educational Partners (PEP) Program. The PEP program is designed to assist parents of English Language Learners in overcoming the language and cultural barriers that may prevent them from participating fully in their children’s educational experience.

“Our main focus in PEP is providing parents with the language knowledge to feel comfortable coming into the school building and being able to use the English language with school personnel. Some of our units focus on school personnel (who’s who at Yorkshire), report card procedures, daily school procedures, parent-teacher conferences, health, and safety procedures,” said Second-Grade Team Lead Marie Meador.

Assistant Principal Starr Granby presents a PEP student with their diploma

In addition to an instructor, each class has an interpreter to accommodate a culturally diverse community. Onsite child care, a crucial factor for many parents, is also available. Yorkshire Elementary uses a two-level approach for the program. Level-one students focus on the basic construction and usage of simple words and phrases in English that relate to the school environment. Level two builds off of what those parents learned, allowing them to practice conversation and writing skills. As a result, parents are able to practice mock parent-teacher conferences, learn how to navigate ParentVUE, review example student report cards, and practice writing notes to the teacher and main office regarding excused and unexcused absences.

Parent Liason and PEP Interpreter Roxanna Chappell adds, “Having parents attend classes two times a week helps them get familiar with the staff, the building, the system, the English language, and many of the resources we offer. All this takes away the fear of the unknown and parents start feeling they are part of the Yorkshire family.”

PEP graduates and Yorkshire staff prepare for a celebratory meal.As parent names were announced, each student made their way forward, most escorted by their children. Assistant Principal Starr Granby congratulated and presented diplomas to each graduate individually, who in turn, extended hugs to the team of educators involved in the program. With that, more than a dozen parents are now better able to successfully implement concise communication with teachers and administrators, empowering them as advocates for their child’s education.

A collective cheer signaled the official end of the ceremony, but not the celebration. After scores of family photos were taken to commemorate the event, attention turned to a row of tables filled with home-cooked foods. They included a cornucopia of recipes representing a variety of cultures from around the world. Nearby, a cake with a frosting inscription captured the spirit of the evening. “Congratulations PEP Class of 2019.”