Working in the real NYC: Parent coordinator Bernadette Slack acts as liaison between school, parents
Bernadette Slack is a parent’s best friend.
The parent coordinator at PS 119 on Avenue K in Brooklyn takes a great amount of pride in her job, doing “whatever needs to be done to make sure the school runs as smoothly as possible for parents, students and staff.
“The responsibility of a parent coordinator is to create a welcoming environment for families at school,” says Slack, 48, the parent coordinator for eight years at the Flatlands public school that both her children attended.
“But the position has evolved. Not only do I meet the parents when they drop their kids off in the morning, but I’m on the phone with parents all day, I go on class trips and then I stick around until every student has been picked up.”
Slack, who describes her job as “that middle man that talks to parents, teachers and students,” arrives at 8 a.m. While she is free to go at 4 p.m., she often stays until 6:30 to ensure all students make it home.
“Every parent has a dream for their child and my role is to help these parents accomplish that dream,” she says. “That can mean many things, but most importantly, the child needs to show up to school on time to receive an education.”
Born on the island of Curacao but raised in Brooklyn, Slack attributes her strength as a parent coordinator to her ability to relate to the parents at PS 119, many of whom are also immigrants from the Caribbean.
“This is my neighborhood,” says Slack. “This is the school where I sent my children. And I am also from the Caribbean, where I understand the schools are very different. You don’t go into the schools there to discuss issues, so a lot of parents do not realize that we encourage a welcoming, interactive environment.
“I have to remind them that here in New York, parents have a say. You can’t just rely on the schools. The parents have to do their part, too.”
Slack’s knowledge of the community allows her to creatively solve problems. On afternoons when a child is not picked up after school, she will make phone calls until someone arrives for the student, even if it means making her own family wait.
“I will try and make a connection,” she says. “I will say, okay, this other student lives next door and I know that her grandma is home, so let’s give her a call. Most times, a sibling has forgotten and a few phone calls will remind them.”
Internet Safety Websites:
- The FBI Parent Guide to Internet Safety
- KIDS HEALTH – Internet Safety
- SafeKids dot com – Child Internet Safety Blog
- NetSmartzKids – Parents Home
- NetSmartzKids – UYN – Use Your NetSmartz – Interactive Games & Education
- iSafe dot org
Noteworthy Articles on Internet Safety:
- CBS News – MySpace Tightens Age Restrictions
- Facebook, Myspace & Xanga – Why all 3 are a danger
- Guardian UK: Children Evade Age Restrictions
Family ELA Night:
SUMMER READING FUN!
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