Tuesday, September 22, 2009



Partnership with Side-By-Side, Inc. to augment services available to Laurel elementary school families. New program endorsed by Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and supported by instructors from Anne Arundel Community College Parenting Center.

UPPER MARLBORO, MD – On Thursday, September 24, Prince George’s County PublicSchools will launch “Family Academy,” a pilot program from its partnership with Side By Side,Inc. From 6 pm to 8 pm at Deerfield Run Elementary School, 13000 Laurel Bowie Road in Laurel, the Prince George’s County Board of Education and the Office of Superintendent of Schools Dr. William R. Hite, Jr. will formally recognize the new initiative which promotes success for Laurel’s elementary school students and their families.

“I salute the great and diverse energy of the people of District I and am extremely excited about Family Academy,” said Rosalind Johnson, Prince George’s County Board of Education member (District I). “This initiative builds demand within our parents so that they better understand how schools work and what it takes for their children to be successful. This is especially important for parents of children of color, poor children and those who are non-English speakers.”

In 2008, Side By Side, Inc. reached out to Board member Rosalind Johnson in the wake of pressing issues like funding cuts, reduced parent liaison positions, low parental involvement, and Laurel elementary school student test scores on standardized reading and math tests that fell below the Maryland State average. The organization then worked with the PGCPS Department of Family and Community Outreach, local principals, active and retired public school educators, and representatives of the Laurel Clergy Association to create services which would assist families in the education of their children.

“We firmly believe that no local issue is more important for our community’s current and future well-being than working along side schools to champion the needs of our students,” said Joseph“Joe” Murchison, president of Side By Side, Inc. “Through this symbiotic relationship with PGCPS, we hope to fill existing voids and positively impact the students, their families, our schools and the community.”

Family Academy will include community-building sessions for local parents and educationalsessions on parenting skills and family dynamics. These will be offered in English and Spanish. Exciting enrichment activities will be provided for children of Family Academy participants during the same sessions.

The Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has endorsed and will provide support to the pilot program. Additionally, instructors from the Parenting Center at Anne Arundel Community College will lead seminars for parents on how to handle various child behaviors.

Future Family Academy gatherings are scheduled to take place on the following Thursdays: October 15, November 5 and December 3. For more information, Laurel residents can RSVP for the kick-off by emailing to sidebysidelaurel@verizon.net, by calling (301) 725-8179, or by signing up at their child’s school office. Initial community responses indicate that over two hundred residents are expected.

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