POCOMOKE – A new initiative is bringing teachers into the homes of their students in Pocomoke.
This school year Pocomoke Middle School launched the 100 Home Visits program. It’s designed to build stronger relationships within the school community.
“It’s an initiative started by Pocomoke Middle School this year to improve relationships with students, teachers and parents,” Principal Matthew Record said. “We wanted to reach our parents where they were and not always have them come to us.”
According to teacher Jennifer Smith, any interested teachers or administrators can make a home visit. During the visit, educators can share concerns, praise or just get to know a student and their family better.
Teacher Jennifer Smith said the visits give educators a chance to discuss their hopes and goals for students and at the same time can make them aware of needs the family or student might have.
“We try to make it clear it’s not a parent teacher conference,” she said. “We also try to help them connect with resources they might not have known were available.”
Lauren McGinnis, the school’s math interventionist, said on a recent home visit she’d learned that a student’s mother was interested in earning her high school diploma. She was able to direct the woman to Worcester County’s adult education program.
“That will open doors and opportunities for her,” McGinnis said.
She said parents were more at ease when they were able to meet with educators in their homes.
“When we go on their turf it makes them feel more comfortable,” she said.
Record said the example provided by McGinnis showed just how fruitful the 100 Home Visits program had become.
“Our goal is to talk about a fifth grader and we end up helping the whole family,” he said. “That kind of success can’t get planned.”
He said that not quite halfway through the school year, 43 home visits had already taken place. A chart on the wall at Pocomoke Middle is marked each time a visit takes place.
“It’s not a requirement,” Record said. “We know our teachers value building relationships. Students succeed because you build relationships with them.”
He said that was particularly true at Pocomoke Middle, where 67 percent of students received free or reduced price meals. Nevertheless Record expects the program to benefit all of the school’s students.
“You might think this is to combat poverty but really it’s about building relationships with all of our families,” he said. “It’s something that’s good for all kids.”