Parent Mentor Program
“Now that I see what goes on in the school day to day. At first I was the one to hold a lot of animosity towards teachers and administration; now I want to see what I can do to help. Now I’m willing to put my whole, full, undivided attention to the school to do whatever it takes to make it more successful.” -- Adam, Logan Square parent leader
“The Parent Mentor Program gives the parents an opportunity to learn from the teachers and the teachers from the parent. Teachers have a better understanding of the community they are serving while getting help from the parents. We are so lucky to have this program at our school.” – Logan Square teacher
The Parent Mentor Program is a nationally recognized parent engagement model that builds deep and lasting relationships between students, teachers, and parents.
HOW IT WORKS: Community organizations partner with schools to recruit approximately 10 parents per school to assist teachers two hours every day. Before entering the classroom, parent mentors participate in a weeklong leadership training. Parents are then assigned to a classroom (not their own child’s) where they are mentored by a teacher and work one-on-one and in small groups with children. After reaching 100 volunteer hours, parent mentors receive a stipend.
PROVEN TRACK RECORD: Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) and Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) have 23 combined years of experience with parent mentors and run programs in 30 low-income neighborhood schools across Chicago. Together, LSNA and SWOP run the Parent Engagement Institute to guide new communities through the program.
SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS IN EARLY GRADES: Parent mentors specifically address the needs of primary students, many of whom need extra support in grades pre-K-3 because they are gaining literacy in two languages. Regular school budgets do not adequately provide such support.
MUCH-NEEDED SUPPORT FOR TEACHERS: Parent mentors provide extra eyes, ears, and hands in the classroom, and help connect teachers to the culture of the community.
INTENSIVE PARENT TRAINING: Parent mentors gain an insider’s understanding of the school system and strengthen skills they need to support their children throughout school. In turn parent mentors become community resources and share these skills with neighbors. The program can also offer a pathway to bilingual teaching and other careers.
STRONG RELATIONSHIPS FOR SCHOOL SUCCESS: Parents, teachers, and administrators form strong working relationships and collaborate to improve low-income schools.
STRONG FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES: Schools draw on the strengths of families who otherwise might see the school as unfriendly. Schools become vibrant centers of community as families begin to use the school as a place to access adult education classes and multiple services.
Background Reading on the Parent Mentor Program
- Chicago Community Group Breaks Down Home-School Barriers (Education Week, August 2011)
- $1 Million Fund to Expand Chicago Parent Mentor Program Statewide (Equal Voice Newspaper, June 2012)
- The Ultimate Empowerment Program for Parents (District Administration Magazine, Nov 2011)
- Family and Community Engagement: How One Chicago Program Makes the Grade (LULAC news, Sep 2011)
- Schools Can Learn from Program that Puts Parents in Classrooms (Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 2011)
- School Program Opens Doors to Immigrant Parents (Pam DiFiglio, Chicago Tribune, 2009)
- Ames Parent Mentors Enhancement to Everything
(Liz Duffrin, LISC Chicago news, 2011)
- Community Schools--Providing Multiple Dividends Across an Entire Neighborhood (John McCarron, LISC, 2011)
- Interview with Cord of Three Strands author Soo Hong (LISC, 2011)