At a Glance
Chester County Technical College High School Pennocks Bridge Campus (TCHS-PB) hosted a free Parent Appreciation Dinner to connect with parents, inform them about the opportunities offered their students, and to show the schools appreciation for their support.
TCHS-PB hosted a Parent Appreciation With Staff and Administration (PAWSTA) Night for all the parents of current CTE students in an effort to improve student retention and recruitment, and to help strengthen parental connections. (The PAWSTA acronym plays off of the schools mascot a lynx.) Administrators and staff wanted to use the dinner as an opportunity to thank parents for their support and to highlight for them how the school prepares students for careers and college. Working off of the quote, It takes a village to raise a child, TCHS administrators focused on the importance of parental and community involvement in education.
During the event, the administration presented a brief 10 minute PowerPoint presentation on the various initiatives and activities that occur throughout the year. Parents also could participate in tours and program specific discussions. To help parents and school staff .members get to know each other better, TCHS-PB administrators and instructors sat among the parents for the dinner.
Parents of students in the AM session attended on one night and then parents of students in the PM session attended two weeks later. In all, approximately 250 parents/guardians attended one of the two dinners. (Total TCHS enrollment was 723 students.)
The meal included a pasta buffet, salad, dessert and beverages, and the combined cost of the two dinners was approximately $1,800 ($7.35 per person). Funding of the dinners came from the Culinary Production account.
Origin / Implementation
The Parent Appreciation Dinner emerged out of growing concern among TCHS-PB administrators and staff members about student retention rates. They wanted to find a way to recruit more students and keep them in school. While administrators noted that student retention is a challenge in southern Chester County because it is a transient area and some related factors are beyond the schools control, they also noted there are issues the school could and should address.
Specifically, administrators wanted to decrease the number of students who left the CTC to return to their sending high school, or dropped out of school altogether. To do this, they realized they needed to engage parents in their childs education and decided the Parent Appreciation Dinner would be a means by which to build stronger relationships with parents. The first dinner was held in 2014, and due to the events success, the school hosted another dinner in 2015. To notify the parents of the event, the school used post card mailers, email blasts, and automated phone messages.
Administrators view the dinner as a way to connect with parents and to encourage their involvement with their students learning experiences. They hope that this parental engagement will result in fewer discipline issues, and they also hope parents will share their experience with friends to promote the value of the school.
Results / Impact
Retention and enrollment rates improved from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2013-2014 school year. For the 2012-2013 school year, 670 students started the year at TCHS-PB, and 629 students finished the year there. For the 2013-2014 school year, 723 students started the year at TCHS-PB, and 705 students finished the year there. Enrollment increased by 53 students over these two school years.
In light of the positive response to the Parent Appreciation Diner, TCHS-PB established a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC provides a parental forum consisting of parents from each sending school district. They meet with the TCHS-PB administration and school counselors on a quarterly basis to discuss a variety of topics, share information and broaden the understanding of school related issues and initiatives.
The Parent Appreciation Night has become a regular event and as a result of the success, all three Chester County Technical College High Schools host this event annually.
Technical College High School Pennocks Bridge Campus
Michael Katch, Principal
Donald Foellner, CTDSL
Steven Kachniasz, CTDSL