Kentucky Districts Institute Teacher Home Visits Before School Starts

In Henderson, Kentucky, teachers are taking seriously the notion that connecting with their students plays an important part in young people's academic success.

Erin Schmitt, reporting for The Evansville Courier & Press, writes that Henderson County Schools held its fourth annual Home Visit Blitz last week in an effort to have face-to-face-contact between students and their teachers. If a brief visit was not possible, staff members made a telephone call, or a preliminary conversation or registration meeting at the student's school.

The school system decided to spread the event out over a week so that better contact would be possible.

 "Our whole purpose for this week is to connect with our parents and start to build relationships with our families before school starts," said Superintendent Marganna Stanley.

If the family is not at home when the visit occurs, the teacher leaves a packet of information at the door which also includes contact information.

"If by chance they didn't get a contact or they weren't home and didn't get a visit, just contact the school and we will make sure someone gets out and has a visit or brings the information to them," said Stanley.

Teachers in Denver Public Schools, if interested in being part of the home visitation program, apply and, if approved, receive training and funding to pay for some of the time the teachers expend, according to Yesenia Robles, reporter for The Denver Post.

"That year it starts, schools are reporting that those young children are coming to school and are not crying and are not really having a hard time," said Michelle Mares, the district's program coordinator.

Coordinators say this is not just for young children or children who are struggling, however. Some teachers make an effort to visit each of their students' homes before school starts. In Aurora Public Schools, the district challenges teachers to try visiting, but does not offer training nor is an application required. At a couple of schools, almost all teachers participate.

WAVE 3 News, reports that students in Bullitt County are receiving home visits from teachers. Principal Troy Kolb took part in this event, which he started at the beginning of the last school year.

"It's our way of extending outside of the walls to the community to say hello and what can we do to help," he said.

During the visits, teachers also left information for the families regarding everything from upcoming open houses to this year's dress code.

In an article written by Bailey Loosemore for The Courier-Journal, Bullitt County Public Schools spokesman John Roberts said he believes that Bernheim Middle School may be the only school in the county that makes such visits.

"We hope that making a connection like this, it helps us relate and understand them a little better," Kolb said.

"But it might open up that communication avenue where if they did have a problem — school-related or not — that they would feel comfortable talking to them because they've seen them in a more relaxed, out of school atmosphere."

Parents were informed of the visits through email, social media, and phone calls, but the staff members knew they would miss some families. Some parents took this visitation time to ask questions or supply information about their children. The main thing seems to be that the visits make a big difference to kids and in building relationships with parents.

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