The district compared TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Kentucky Survey results before and after the program. Results show parent/guardian involvement has increased more than 15 percent, community involvement has increased more than 30 percent and students’ understanding of expectations regarding conduct has increased 25 percent, thus resulting in fewer discipline referrals.
Middleton noted the district’s efforts to build relationships and familiarity goes beyond the home visit program. At the end of each school year, students spend one day in the classroom they will have the next year. Those who will be transitioning from primary to intermediate, or from intermediate to high school are bused to their future school.
“If you’re going to lose students to charters or privates, this is a way maybe to get them excited about their next year’s teacher and maybe it’s a little harder to pull our kids away,” he said.
Newport Independent Superintendent Kelly Middleton talks to students during a home visit
prior to the school year beginning. (Photo courtesy of Newport Independent Schools)
During the home visits, teachers are asked to not recite rules or regulations for the classroom, but to simply introduce themselves, get to know the students and parents, and find out any concerns the parents might have or if there are any obstacles that could affect a student’s performance. “It’s really a time to get to know the child,” Middleton said.
“We believe (the program) puts us way ahead because we already know so much about each child. It probably takes other school districts a month to figure out, and we’ve already got that information,” he said.
If the student and/or parent are not home at the time of the visit, teachers are instructed to do at least one follow-up to meet at a different time.
The school board approved paying teachers $250 when their home visits are completed, and the district also pays for printing business cards, door hangers and yard signs. Pompilio’s Restaurant, owned by two Newport High School alumni, donate brunch to all teachers prior to the visits.
In a letter for the program’s PEAK nomination, teachers Samantha Grayson and Bonnie Stacey wrote that “home visits allow us to take that first step to building strong, successful and proactive relationships with our students and families.”
They wrote that it makes the students “more comfortable on the first day because they know a friendly face awaits their arrival; they know they have a mentor who is there to answer their questions, provide support, and advocate on their behalf.”
The teachers also wrote that building the relationship between a parent or guardian makes communication better, which benefits the student’s success.
“Relationships pave the way for success in the classroom,” Grayson and Stacey wrote. “It is imperative that students know the adults at school care about them, believe in them, and have high expectations for them.”