The bond between school and home is a very important part of a student’s education. At Fredericktown Elementary School, we are committed to building positive relationships with the families of our students. This year, we have been able to return to hosting some of the events that have helped us connect with families in the past. Two events that we have hosted recently include Mom & Me Night and Cookie Palooza.
Mom & Me Night is an evening hosted by the first grade teachers for their students to bring their mom (or another important female figure in their life) to play BINGO.
“Mom and Me Night is a great way for teachers to connect with parents and students,” First grade teacher Melissa Sebastian said. “Bingo is a fun and easy game for students to play with their parents. It’s fun watching them get so excited when they get a Bingo.”
Leslie Sutton said her daughter, Sophia Durr, has greatly enjoyed her first grade year.
“We both agree that Mom & Me Night was a wonderful time for us to have fun and spend time with other families,” Sutton said.
In addition to Mom & Me in the spring, the first grade teachers also host a Dad & Me scavenger hunt in the fall. This year, Brandon and Rachel Greene accompanied their son, Luke, to both activities.
“The special days that the elementary school offers to the students and their families are awesome,” Brandon Greene said. “The Dad and Me scavenger hunt was a blast for Luke and me. Mom and Me Bingo Night was so much fun for Luke and Rachel. The time and care that the faculty takes to put into these special days is outstanding.”
Elementary Principal Joe Clauser said the first grade staff work hard each year to make family involvement a priority for their students.
“Rachel Tucker and her team did a great job of organizing Mom & Me Night and making it something that would be memorable for the students,” Clauser said. “From providing snacks to making sure everyone got a prize, they thought through every detail. Mark and Jackie Capone always do a fantastic job calling numbers and displaying them on the board. It’s a real team effort to make the evening run so smoothly, and I appreciate the dedication of the first grade teachers to make this one of the best-attended events we host each year.”
This past Saturday, nearly a hundred students and their families came to Clauser’s Cookie Palooza, another spring connection activity planned for families to build positive relationships with each other.
The event was originally planned in 2019 by Clauser and math coach Jennifer Miller. Clauser approached Miller to say that Fall Festival and Breakfast With Santa were so successful with families that he wanted to see the school add a family event in the spring that would bring parents and students together for a simple and fun activity. The two worked together to plan a time for students to bring their families to spend a morning decorating and eating cookies.
The first event was a success, but for the next two years, Cookie Palooza was canceled due to COVID.
With the return of Cookie Palooza this year, Miller decided to add face painting and a reading area to provide parents and students more opportunities to make the most of the morning. She invited Coach D.J. McFadden and the Lady Blackcat soccer team to paint simple designs on kids’ cheeks.
“The girls were really excited to be asked to participate in the FES Cookie Palooza,” McFadden said. “They had a lot of fun painting faces and truly enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the children in our community.”
“This year, we have focused more on including students from other buildings to promote a Blackcat community,” Miller said. “Being on the other side of town, our students don’t have many opportunities to interact with the older grade levels. So we plan as many opportunities as we can to bring in groups to spend time with our kids.”
In the reading area, students were able to relax in bean bag chairs or other comfortable seating areas while they read books with their parents, grandparents, or other family members. Most of the families who came took advantage of the reading area, and the teachers noticed.
“I really liked the reading on the stage,” Reading teacher Brandi Baker said. “I saw parents really engaging with their kids. We don’t get to see that every day.”
“It was fun reading with the students on the stage and more so when they read to me,” Special education teacher Betty Link said. “It was a great way to start out the weekend.”
“A couple of parents commented that they love that we provide free meaningful activities for them to do with their children,” reading teacher Rhonda Starkey said.
“One parent told me how much they appreciated that we did this and they liked it because it was a fun, quick thing they could do with their child that didn’t take up their whole Saturday morning,” Arlene Branum said.
Miller said, with Cookie Palooza, she hopes to provide a free community outreach and connect with parents in a fun environment.
“We want to do everything we can to support our students and their parents,” Miller said. “We want it to be a time for families to strengthen their relationships with each other.”
“Sophia’s favorite part of Cookie Palooza was creating cookies with mom and reading with a new friend,” Sutton said. “I feel these events help us bond with our children as well as meet staff and other families. It’s a great opportunity to strengthen a family bond.”
“Our boys were so excited to come to Cookie Palooza along with their friends,” Brandon Greene said. “We feel that these activities bring a great connection with families and school.”
“I had fun,” First grader Kael Underwood said. “I liked being with my family, reading books, and eating cookies. I decorated my cookie with almost an inch of icing.”
“We couldn’t have had Cookie Palooza without the awesome cookies and icing,” Miller said. “Thank you to Opaa for donating the ingredients for the cookies; to Loretta Stacy, Jessica Akins, and the staff of the intermediate school kitchen for baking the cookies; to Carla Davis, Heather Harper, and the staff of the middle school kitchen for making and bagging the icing; and to Carey Manley for going the extra mile attending to details to make this year’s event the best one yet.”
“For some events, we limit the invitation to parents only,” Clauser said. “Field trips and class parties are created for the students who are in the class. When parents are able to devote their attention to that student, they feel a greater sense of connection, and they are able to benefit from the opportunities for meaningful participation, learning, and enjoyment. Siblings will have a chance to participate in their own events later, so we encourage parents to attend, but leave siblings at home. Then there are times that we invite the whole family, and we encourage parents to bring any combination of family members they want. At these events, we often see grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, cousins, and friends, all coming to spend time together.”
As a mother of five, Melody Peterman understands the importance of strategic invitations to events at school. Peterman currently has sons in kindergarten, first, and second grade.
“The boys and I have really enjoyed the family activities we have participated in this school year,” Peterman said. “It is nice to have activities dedicated to an individual child, like the Mom and Me Night, to allow for some one on one time that is more difficult to get at home. Breakfast With Santa and Cookie Palooza are great because they allow younger siblings to attend, see the school, and experience the excitement. We appreciate all the hard work FES puts into these events for us.”
In addition to being a first grade teacher, Sebastian is also the mother of a first grade student, Nolan. While she appreciates activities that are planned for the whole family, she also knows the importance of setting aside time for parents to spend one-on-one with an individual child. She said, as a mom of a first grader, she enjoyed being able to spend time with just him.
“There is no doubt that our family has a sincere appreciation for the Fredericktown Elementary School and we enjoy the special events that it offers to the students and their families,” Brandon Greene said. “We think that Mr. Clauser does an excellent job as the school principal and the school has a pretty amazing staff.”
“Our family loved Cookie Palooza,” Tasha Braswell said. “Mr. Clauser and the staff always make these events so fun for the students and their families. Our daughter enjoyed decorating cookies, listening to music and getting her face painted. It was a fun relaxing way to start our weekend. FES is always so great at offering different after-school activities for their students and their families. As a parent I enjoy talking to the teachers and watching the kids play and interact. I’m so thankful for all the hard work and extra hours the elementary school puts into these events.”