Spearheaded by Anne Smith and Renita Page, curriculum directors for the district, the VPSB has been holding workshops and in-services to prepare its employees for what the Common Core will bring.

The Common Core has its fair share of detractors, critics and opponents, especially in the State of Louisiana.

But it also has its supporters, as its more rigorous standards are a selling point to many.

Although the rollout for the program has come to a halt as Gov. Bobby Jindal is battling its implementation in the courts, the Vernon Parish School Board has taken it upon itself to go ahead and proceed with the tougher standards.

Spearheaded by Anne Smith and Renita Page, curriculum directors for the district, the VPSB has been holding workshops and in-services to prepare its employees for what the Common Core will bring.

And now, the teachers of the parish, along with the VPSB administration, are emphasizing communication with the parents of the students of the district as a way of not only calming the fears of parents, but also as a means to educate them on the materials available for the understanding of Common Core concepts.

“These new standards are rigorous,” Smith said. “So we want to give our students what they need as we implement these new standards. We don’t want to frustrate the students, but keep them moving forward. And we want to give parents the resources to help their students at home.”

One of the ways Smith and Page plan to help give parents said resources is through utilizing a program called “Parent Homework Night.”

An integral part of Fort Polk Progress, the “Parent Homework Night” concept is being planned for each school. It gives parents a chance to meet with teachers, working with them to understand the new vocabulary and standards featured in the Common Core.

“We are hoping to have these nights at each of our schools, hopefully by the end of September,” Smith said. “We are requesting all of our schools to help parents understand these concepts so they can help their student at home.”

This program has already been utilized at North Polk Elementary by first-grade teacher Susan Haney. She sent home a newsletter to gauge the interest of the parents. Upon their response, Haney set a time for meeting the parents and their students.

She had seven parents arrive with their children for the event, where they talked about the Common Core and why things look different.

“My parents were very receptive and very relieved,” Haney said. “The children are excited about this and we want our parents to be excited.”

When it comes to math, the parish has been implementing a program called Eureka Math, which breaks down the process into more understandable steps for the student. Though parents aren’t familiar with the vocabulary being used, once her parents got a handle on it, Haney said they were optimistic.

“New math is nothing to be afraid of,” she said. “Once the parents learned about it and saw it, they were very optimistic.”

Smith, who oversees math implementation, and Page, who works primarily with English-Language Arts, know communication with parents is key to the continued success of the district’s schools, which ranked in the Top 5 in the state last year.

“We are encouraging each school to reach out to their parents because communication is key,” Page said. “We are listening to everyone so all of our students can be successful.”

In addition to the “Parent Homework Night,” the parish is also posting links on its website to helpful resources, which will guide parents in helping their students with work being sent home. Also, schools will be using certified tutors in an effort to help enhance student learning.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Page said. “But we are adding links to our site everyday and we are continuing to look at ways to improve communication with our parents.”

“Communication with both teachers and parents is a hallmark of this program,” Smith said. “Communication is key to all of this.”