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Giving Back: Online tutoring, homework help linked at Portal

By Monique Roth
L’Observateur

RESERVE — As expectations for public school students continue to rise across the country and state via curriculum and test changes, the St. John the Baptist Parish School District has created a tool for parents rich in resources they can use to better help their children with Common Core State Standards and PARCC testing.

The Parent Engagement Portal, located in the Parents and Students section of the district’s website at www.stjohn.k12.la.us, was launched at the beginning of this school year. District Coordinator of Education Technology Bonnie Dinvaut said the portal includes a link to free online tutoring and information about the Homework Hut, a local tutoring program for students and parents that takes place Monday through Thursday at numerous locations throughout the parish.

Parents can also gain access to the Parent Command Center in the portal, Dinvaut said, which they can use to monitor students’ test scores throughout the school year. She said the portal empowers parents by providing the resources and tools they need to be active participants in and advocates for their children’s education.

“The portal is not required by the state; however, as we continue to raise our expectations for students, it’s important the district work alongside parents to increase student achievement,” Dinvaut said.

The district launched the portal to provide parents with a communication tool full of accurate information about the work their child is taking on in school, Dinvaut said, as well as clear up misconceptions parents may have about that work.

Development of the portal — an on-going collaboration within the district’s technology and curriculum departments — started last summer.

Parents have expressed pleasure that the user-friendly portal is easy to navigate, Dinvaut said, adding the portal is maintained and updated by central office administration and can be linked to teacher websites.

“It’s a unified way to share information and resources,” Dinvaut said.

“The Parent Engagement Portal is a working collaboration with all stakeholders — administration, teachers, parents and students — and we will continue to provide parents with information they need to be involved in their children’s education in meaningful ways.”

Superintendent Kevin George said increasing parental involvement is an ongoing goal in the district.

“One of the best ways we can do this is to make it easy for parents to stay informed and participate in their child’s learning,” George said.

“The portal accomplishes this by compiling information all in one place and making it convenient for parents to access that information anytime they are connected to the Internet.”

Dinvaut said the portal will be demonstrated at parent meetings hosted by the district and Blessed to Be a Blessing.

The meetings — held at St. John Parish library locations to encourage parental involvement, scholarship, academic recognition, literacy and community outreach — will take place every third Wednesday at the LaPlace library.

Two West Bank library branch meetings will be held Monday — a meeting focused on financial aid — and March 9.