Parents urged to take part in schools Church group's rally to recruit volunteers called 'a good start'

August 30, 1998|By Stephen Henderson | Stephen Henderson,SUN STAFF

Good books, teachers and principals can make a difference in city children's education, says the Rev. Douglas I. Miles of Koinonia Baptist Church in Baltimore. But active parents -- they make the difference.

Miles and other members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance teamed up with school and government officials yesterday to kick off a yearlong "movement" to get 5,000 volunteers involved in city schools.

The rally, held at Lake Clifton-Eastern High in East Baltimore, didn't draw the throngs organizers had hoped for. But the 800 or so parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders who showed up to hear the speeches and sign up for school activities represented a good start, the organizers agreed.

"We could always use more people," Miles said after delivering a rousing speech to the crowd. "But we had strong enthusiasm to support our goal of 5,000 volunteers by the end of the school year."

The community's efforts to boost parental involvement were announced after a meeting three weeks ago between clergy and city schools chief Robert Booker. Booker and state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick also spoke at yesterday's rally.

Today, ministers in churches throughout the city are being asked to include messages about parental involvement in their services.

Miles said the clergy will have a meeting late next month to plan activities for the rest of the school year. They plan to hold a rally in support of teachers and administrators in early October, he said.

Frances Ellington, principal of Ashburton Elementary in West Baltimore, brought three of her teachers to the rally. Ashburton enjoys more parental support than most city schools, Ellington said, but could use more.

"Parents are the only reason we're able to do a lot of things in our building," she said. "So if they [the clergy] can get more of them involved, we'll be able to do more for our children."

Michael Hamilton, who heads the city schools' parent and advisory board, said the clergy's effort is one that should have been undertaken some time ago.

"It's high time we got the churches back involved in our schools," Hamilton said. "This was a good start."

Pub Date: 8/30/98

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