Kim Sams (from left), Kathy Giannelli, Jill Brown and Mary Helen Hull attend a Parent-to-Parent meeting at Augusta Preparatory Day School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Parents networking with parents is what a new voluntary program at Augusta Preparatory Day School is all about. The school purchased the Parent-to-Parent program earlier this year from the Passage Group for use in bringing parents together to learn what has changed from their generation to their child's.
"We had previously participated in hands-off programs with minimal feedback," said John Stephens, head of Augusta Prep's middle school, where the program is being focused. "Parent-to-Parent is a hands on, practical and purposeful approach. We certainly see the need. Our children are being bombarded with messages that we, quite frankly, don't feel like they are ready to deal with just yet."
The focus of Parent-to-Parent is to bring parents together to discuss issues that children are facing. During an eight-session program, parents are shown videos that are designed to bring about discussion.
"I'm very interested in networking with other parents and staying up on our kid and other kids in his class," said Jim Kerlin of Evans. His son, Jacob, is a seventh-grader at Augusta Prep.
"We can't isolate our kids, but we have to be aware and do some things avoid the pitfalls that parents sometimes fall prey to," Kerlin said. "The world is a different place now than it was two or three generations ago."
Augusta Prep has established numerous Parent-to-Parent groups. Some are designed for couples, others are for fathers only and still others are held in a potluck dinner atmosphere. Kerlin is attending the fathers-only meetings and his wife, Shawn, will attend the next round of sessions.
"I knew a friend whose older child went to a school in Macon that had the program," said Kim Sams, mother of 11-year-old Missy. "I heard all the great things about it, and it sounded wonderful."
Kathy Giannelli (left) and Jill Brown listen as other parents talk about experiences with their children during a Parent to Parent meeting at Augusta Preperatory Day School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Today, Sams has been through all eight sessions and serves as a facilitator of Augusta Prep's program.
"I was very concerned about where my child might be going with all that is out there these days," Sams said. "It's important to be actively involved in these years for our child and to be there for her."
The program also helps turn acquaintances into friends, Sams said.
"It's nice to hear my values validated," she said. "What I'm hearing from this group is, 'Please call.' As parents, you would hesitate because you don't want to offend anyone."
Sams' husband, Bill, will attend the next session. "We've always had a good relationship with Missy," Sams said. "A lot of what we've discussed (at Parent-to-Parent meetings) has allowed me to have conversations with her that I otherwise wouldn't have."
Sally Griffin has attended half of the eight sessions and calls the program "truly wonderful. It networks parents, and makes parents not afraid to call other parents."
Griffin, the mother of 12-year-old Binford, also has a 24-year-old son.
"Our children are communicating, and we should be, too," she said.
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