When Chanel Fields’ daughter started making the honor roll she was convinced that regular kindergarten attendance actually did matter. It was a message she heard from the kindergarten teacher every day, but her daughter’s turnaround really persuaded her. It’s the story she eagerly and proudly later told to a small group of parents at a Ready Freddy kindergarten transition event. In addition to sitting on the kindergarten transition team at the school, she was more than happy to volunteer even more of her time to speak to parents of incoming kindergarteners that evening at Spring Hill elementary. Chanel is just one of the many Pittsburgh Public School parents who received Giant Eagle gift cards for being Ready Freddy parent volunteers.
In the fall of 2013, Giant Eagle Community Relations and Development staff Tina Thompson and Melinda Gaus made possible a very generous donation of $2500 worth of gift cards to the Ready Freddy Pathways to Kindergarten Success project to be distributed to any parent involved in Ready Freddy volunteer work. This fall, Giant Eagle donated another $2500 worth of cards as a way to continue the great work these parents have done in supporting quality kindergarten transition efforts.
Some of the ways the cards have been used:
- A leader parent at Langley K-8 School volunteered at every Ready Freddy kindergarten enrollment and transition event, making those experiences more welcoming for new parents.
- The Martin Luther King PreK-8 School Parent Nation assembled 1,000 gift bags to be given to every new kindergarten parent participating in Ready Freddy/United Way first day of kindergarten kick-off events hosted at 19 Pittsburgh Public Schools.
- A league of parent volunteers from Weil PreK-5 School in the Hill District canvassed public housing communities in that community, encouraging parents to enroll their children in Weil PreK and kindergarten classes.
- Parents at Arsenal PreK-5 School participated in focus groups designed to gauge preferred parent communication methods and messaging content for an innovative attendance ‘texting’ effort being piloted through a Ready Freddy/PPS project.
- Parents of kindergarteners at Langley participated in interviews as part of an evaluation of the Ready Freddy program at that school, offering useful insights into parent perceptions of kindergarten transition.
- Parents connected to Family Support Centers participated in focus groups gauging their family experiences related to race and education as a way to support information gathering for a future Ready Freddy project.
The new batch of cards will be used for similar purposes, as well as for new parent involvement opportunities that may emerge. The Ready Freddy program is grateful to volunteer Andi Fischhoff for staying in contact with Giant Eagle to help make this donation possible and to Melinda Gaus (Tina Thompson has recently retired) for her ongoing support of the program. Warm thanks to Giant Eagle for supporting parent involvement in this critical early education project!