East Elementary PTO

East Elementary PTO includes Michelle Goode (middle left) and Principal Matt Lasher (to her right).

MONROE — Class is in session for parents of students at East Elementary. The public school has formed the Eagle Collaborative Academy (ECA) as an instructional guide for parents to assist in reinforcing the education children receive from the school.

“Through a partnership among school, parents, students and community, we will create a stronger relationship that will support children,” is ECA’s purpose according to a spokesperson for East Elementary. “The goal is to provide educational programs that assist parents in creating supportive home learning environments and encourage their children to become life-long learners and productive citizens.”

Principal Matt Lasher said ECA gives the school a chance to listen to parents and foster more dialogue between staff and families. “We also want to take that opportunity,” he said. “... what are the ways that we can better communicate between home and school.”

Benefits of ECAParents who sign up for the ECA will learn how to keep their children safe from COVID-19 at home and school, learn who to contact for assistance and support, how to become a volunteer in and outside the school building, how to access online resources and curriculum, how to raise a healthy child and access health, mental health, stress reduction and exercise activities, and nutrition, and how to interpret test scores and schedule parent-teacher conferences, according to a report from the school.

Classes will be held virtually via Zoom and the first semester will begin on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m. in English and 11:30 a.m. in Spanish. Classes will be recorded and uploaded to the school’s website for people who cannot make the live, Zoom meeting. Meeting dates for the first semester are: Sept. 24; Oct. 8; Oct. 22; Nov. 5; Nov.19; Dec. 3 and Dec. 17.

The second semester will begin on Jan. 14, 2021. At the end of each semester, a certificate of participation will be awarded.

Work on creating the ECA began last year, according to Michelle Goode, assistant principal.

For those who question why ECA was not available either during the summer or right before school started, Lasher said: “it took a minute to be able to get the information, the data to drive where we wanted our focus to be, because everything was so new. I don’t think anybody knew exactly how things were going to flow. Take in those first four weeks and recognizing where we needed to fill in those gaps and then go from there.”

Goode added that the school wanted ECA to meet parents’ needs, which took time to assess.

Lucy Cifre, parent liaison for the East Elementary PTO, said the ECA is an “awesome opportunity” for parents to learn how to use Canvas. She said if she had elementary age children, she would sign up for it. She described ECA as a “relief” because she gets calls from parents “all day” asking for help logging into online resources. She said it’s a “relief” for parents to have an instructional guide provided by the school.

To sign up for the Eagle Collaborative Academy, email or call Michelle Goode at michelle.goode@ucps.k12.nc.us or 704-296-3110.

Parent Teacher OrganizationA second way parents can get involved at East Elementary is by joining the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Within the last year, the PTO was established and received a 501©3 status.

Prior to the PTO, East Elementary had a parent council. The council was made up of three to four parents to serve more than 420 students, Teresa Hernandez, a PTO parent and Cifre, said. The council had one leader, but the PTO has 15 families involved and divided among committees.

Last year, the PTO had several concession stands during school events that operated as fundraising opportunities. They had a spirit night at CiCi’s pizza and collected donations from school staff, families and local businesses.

Too, they hosted beautification projects around the school’s entrance.

One event that Lucy misses this year (cancelled because of COVID) is the high five challenge. Law enforcement officers and firemen would visit on the first day of school to give students high fives.

The PTO has provided school uniforms for students who could not afford a second uniform.

This year, in response to COVID, the PTO created 40 buttons that teachers and administration could wear embossed with a photo of their smiling face so students could see the face behind the cloth mask.

Goode explained that in the future (post-COVID days) the school plans to host hybrid events where parents can choose to attend in person or virtually.

To get involved with the PTO at East Elementary, email eastelmpto.nc@gmail.com or like East Elementary School PTO-Parent Teacher Organization on Facebook.

Town Hall meetingsFinally, a third way parents (and the community) can get involved at the elementary school is by attending Town Halls. Town Halls provide updates on what the school is doing and celebrates what the school has been able to achieve. For the Oct. 1 meeting, in lieu of a meeting, the school has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank and Atrium Health to give food to families in need. It will be a drive-thru food pantry.

When talking about how he thought East Elementary performed during the spring when schools had to quickly adapt to remote, online learning Lasher said the school did not see an optimal level of engagement; however, that level of engagement improved given remote learning became mandatory this fall.

“It was about as good as we could expect it to be given the situation and how we had to turn on a dime of what education was from what we knew it and what we know it to be today,” Lasher said. “From what we learned in the spring, we were able to plan over the summer. This fall has been a significant improvement from that.”

Lasher said depending on direction from the Board of Education, East Elementary is planning, preparing and getting ready to receive students either two days a week or five days a week.

The Board of Education, earlier this month, proposed an idea to allow students to return two days a week; however, on Sept. 17, Governor Roy Cooper announced that schools (starting Oct. 5) could choose to receive students five days a week with COVID-19 guidelines in place.