By Chris Croll
“I wish I could help out at my child’s school, but I don’t have time to go in and volunteer,” parents often say. Fortunately, busy parents can provide support for their child’s learning experience here in Loudoun County without ever stepping foot in the classroom.
One of the best ways to stay involved is to regularly log on to Parent Vue, the secure student information portal provided by Loudoun County Public Schools. Through Parent Vue, you can access your child’s class schedule, grades, test history and more. You can also use Parent Vue to message your child’s teachers to ask if there is anything you can do from home to help them in the classroom. If you’ve forgotten your Parent Vue password, visitlcps.org/Page/150204.
Another way to connect with your child’s teachers is to email them (LCPS staff email follows firstname.lastname@example.org.) If you travel frequently or work evening hours, inquire about a phone or FaceTime meeting. Many teachers arrive at school very early in the morning and are willing to speak with parents long before the first bell rings. Don’t expect an immediate response to your email, however, because most teachers are busy in the classroom all day and don’t check email until after school hours.
One way to show support for your child’s school is to join the parent organization (PTA or PTO). Even if you don’t attend any meetings, the nominal dues help fund school events, speakers and specials. Your child’s school web site lists PTA/PTO officer contact information. Some memberships include discounts to area attractions.
If you want to stay current with what’s happening at the division level, (note that Virginia calls them school “divisions” not school “districts”), tune into School Board meetings each second and fourth Tuesday of the month. These meetings are broadcast on local access TV, they are live streamed tolcps.organd they are recorded. Written transcriptions are also available. School Board subcommittee meetings are scheduled at various times throughout the month and are audio recorded and transcribed. At subcommittee meetings, policies are drafted, discussed and debated before they go to the full School Board for approval. For example, the Curriculum & Instruction subcommittee has been working on a new grading policy and a new middle/high school unstructured activity time (i.e. “recess”) policy, both of which will be presented to the full Board next week. To access School Board and subcommittee meeting details, visit LCPS Board Docs athttps://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/loudoun/Board.nsf/Public.
Special interest group meetings are another way to stay in the loop on what’s happening. The Gifted Education Advisory Committee, Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC), School Business Partnership Council, Career and Technical Education Foundation and Ad Hoc Committee for Equity are some of the groups that meet monthly. Parents can access meeting materials on thelcps.orgpage dedicated to each group.
One final way to support your child in school is to send in extra supplies. At Back to School Night this year at the middle and high school level, many teachers said they could use extra boxes of tissues and packs of disinfectant wipes. With allergy and flu season upon us, the need for these supplies outpaces what school budgets provide. At the elementary level, pencils are another precious commodity. Consider tossing a few extra packs of tissues, wipes or pencils in your shopping cart the next time you are at Costco or the grocery store and send the supplies in with your child.
You don’t have to be present in your child’s school to stay actively involved. Loudoun parents can connect at the individual, classroom, school and division level by remotely accessing a variety of educational resources. For those parents who are too busy to log on, tune in or reach out, you can still be a hero to your child’s teachers by sending in a few boxes of tissues each quarter.
[Chris Croll is a writer, community activist and member of the Loudoun County School Board (Catoctin District). She lives in Leesburg with her husband and two children.]