Hawthorne set sights on empowering families, building community with events

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Hawthorne Elementary’s English Language teachers heard a similar question among the families of their students whose first language is not English: How can we help?

As a way to support and empower families, the teachers launched a new series of parent nights on Thursday where parents can learn about school, district and community resources available to them and their children.

“We want them to understand they have a voice in the district,” Principal Ernest Clinkscale said. They are so supportive of their students but we want to make sure they have the tools in their toolbox to help their kids at home.”

The parent nights are among several events and activities the school has been doing to build a community with its staff, students and families, he said. 

Last week, about 700 parents and students attended the school’s Back to School Bash, which was sponsored by the school’s PTO and their community partner, Capital Kia. Westerville North and Westerville South high school students volunteered at the event, connecting with students by distributing food and supervising games. 

“That’s one of the things I’m very passionate about — that our families can use each other as a resource when they have questions and need support or another family may have a strategy to help with academics,” Clinkscale said. “The only way that happens is if you build a community.”

On Thursday, Hawthorne’s EL teachers focused on programs such as Schoology, PowerSchool and iReady for their first parent empowerment event. They also shared one of their classroom lessons with students, providing parents with materials to duplicate at home with their children. 

Clinkscale said the school plans to host parent empowerment nights every other month with a different focus.