Natchez United supporting parents

Published 12:39 am Wednesday, October 4, 2017

“They are sending us the best they have!” These have always been the words of my mentor, Dr. Jayne Sargent, former Superintendent of Education in Meridian and Jackson Public Schools; and, how true it is.

As a young administrator, I often got frustrated with parents who I thought were not ‘making’ their children ‘do right!’ As I listened to Dr. Sargent, applied Covey’s Habit of “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” and grew in knowledge and wisdom, I realized how valid the statement actually is.

Parents don’t send us their failures and keep their successes at home. They send us all that they have — the best that they have. Therefore, when we criticize or degrade their children, we have criticized or degraded them as well, and they understandably take it personally. The more years their children have been in school, the more times they have been disappointed by the laundry list of consistently growing weaknesses. How can we be surprised when it seems that they have given up? And if losing hope is the same as giving up, then I suppose they may have!

Email newsletter signup

In 2000, “No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning,” by Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom was published. In their book, they described a growing achievement gap as they suggested, “The average Black and Hispanic student at the end of high school has academic skills at about the eighth grade level” (p. 22). They did include information from a leading sociologist, George Farkas who stated that, “Low income parents value education, stable marriages, steady jobs, and other ‘middle class’ objectives. They differ in the ‘culturally-shaped skills, habits, and styles’ that facilitate the realization of those aspirations.”

So perhaps, the real challenge is supporting these parents who are often third or fourth generations of unsuccessful students themselves.

Natchez United has been talking about addressing this issue by working with the community to support bringing Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families into the community through training for adults, students and now families. Many communities across the country have had great success in raising academic achievement rates while lowering discipline and behavior referrals. Both of these translate into lower dropout rates and crime stats; that means increased graduation, more prepared workforce, decreased taxes and increased economy, not to mention the personal fulfillment for each child and family that develops the  “‘culturally-shaped skills, habits, and styles’ that facilitate the realization” of their values.

At this time, we have had a handful of our faith-based partners who have expressed interest in hosting some training sessions for the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families in their facilities. Others have expressed an interest in finding some other venues such as libraries or schools that would host such programs. What most places have seen is that by teaching the skills and language of success to leaders and successful students, the message has spread and attracted those who might benefit from such.

We do appreciate the outpouring of encouragement and growing support for efforts like this as we strive to support the continuous improvement of Natchez. We need everyone’s help because as a middle school principal in Harlem, Gregory Hodge, explains, “Without an education, children are slaves to the world they live in. With real learning, there’s no end to what they might be.”  Let’s join together to take the opportunity to restore their hope!

Natchez United invites you to join us for our weekly events:

47 p.m. Mondays — Community Prayers for Natchez

47 p.m. Tuesdays — Community Meeting to Support Natchez

47 p.m. Thursdays — Open Mic Night on the Natchez Grand Porch

And like our Facebook Group & Page for Updates on our efforts!
Dr. Marvin Jeter is a member of Natchez United.