Two prominent members of the Rotary Club Doral, Felipe Madrigal, Founding President and Gerardo Reyes (JIS PTA) organized this important meeting in the meeting rooms of the Doral Park Country Club on September 2. The following principals attended the meeting: Maria Caceres (DMS), Mayra Falcón (EBT K-8 Center), Ms. Gwendolyn Hines (JIS K-8 Center) and Dr. Jacques Bentolila (RRDSH). Also in attendance, Dr. Jenny Miranda Gonzalez (Parent Academy Director), Mrs. Arlene Martinez (MDCPS), City of Doral Vice Mayor Mike Di Pietro, and other board members of the Doral Rotary Club. Doral Family Journal was the only news organization to be present and was recognized for their work regarding the Doral system of education.
The initial presentation was made by Mr. Felipe Madrigal, who said that the goal of the meeting was to achieve a final agreement between parents of Doral and institutions such as the Parent Academy. The only chance of success is through effective school principals who allow for lectures, seminars and/or any other activity offered by the Parent Academy or takes it upon themselves to help bridge the gap. It was stated that such systems have existed in Doral and successful meetings have been held. Mr. Madrigal mentioned that the unity of the community is the key to the success and that the winds of uncertainty that loomed the city a few months ago, when misinformation led some to assume that the school could even be closed, have given way to new proposals and new protagonists, in turn assuring the wellbeing of our children and with that, greater peace of mind.
Mr. Reyes presented the results of his project ‘Parents Night / Grass Root in JIS K-8 Center ” and delivered to Dr. Miranda Gonzales more than 500 Parent Academy surveys, diligently completed by JIS parents, represing greater than 50% participation. Mr. Reyes also thanked DFJ for publishing the survey, which allowed for it to be more wide spread and thus be sucesfull. The exhibition of Mr. Reyes was also focused on the need for a united community in order to combat serious problems, a community that can rely in institutions such as PTA / PTSA, concerned and involved parents, as well as teachers and administrators committed to excellence in education.
Finally, Dr. Miranda Gonzalez was kind enough to explain the following: the institution Parent Academy was created 6 years ago, it is a nonprofit organization that takes responsibility for directly providing better educational services to families with no cost to the schools. While it is an MDCPS entity, it is not funded by MDCPS but by private funds.This organization was created by the previous superintendent, Dr. Crew, but was actually implemented by Dr. Alberto Carvalho. To this end, Dr. Carvalho requested support from the Knight Foundation and got a donation of 1.8 million U.S. dollars primarily directed at workshops and free family events.
Course offerings were accomplished through diverse surveys sent to various schools and a study on how to best distribute them. Parent Academy counts on the participation of 86% of public schools and 91% of the charter schools. The goal they have to reach is 100% participation, and thus are going to great lengths to achieve it. The current problem they are facing is that the Knight Foundation grant ends in October 2011, reaching the end of its three-year span. Up to now, at least one workshop was held per school, per month and a family event per month. This adds up to over 400 lectures / seminars (workshops) and a large number of free family events. Given the importance of this program, the Superintendent Carvalho has included it in his budget and has asked for state and federal funds to finance it. Iraida Mendez Cartaya, Budget Assistant Superintendent has held a series of presentations at various schools explaining the reality of the situation and proposing to write letters to legislators asking for true support for public education.
Dr. Miranda Gonzalez works closely with Dr.Angela Lozano (Parental Involvement) and used the meeting to give principals the documentation to apply for workshops (in the languages ??of their choice) and any other help. She was advised to deliver the surveys in her schools and to work together to achieve better results. Ms. Mayra Falcon recommended that the workshops are not exclusive to any school, rather open to the community to be better utilized, an initiative that was shared by the other principals present, who in turn pledged to continue to help push forward, motivate and encourage all programs and projects of the Parent Academy. Doral Family Journal also made ??a commitment, as it projects many good things for Doral’s future, without a doubt.