Program helps parents be advocates


Have you ever wanted to make a change at your child’s school or in your community and felt unsure of how to do it? The Parent Leadership Training Institute can help.

The program is seeking members for a new cohort to begin this fall. The Initiative Director Manish Dixit, Site Coordinator Luva Alvarez, and program alum Jennifer Ghidiu discussed the impact of PLTI Wednesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“The program empowers parents to see themselves as change agents to improve outcomes for children in the community,” said Dixit. “In 1992 in the State of Connecticut there was research done through two years of focus groups which resulted in realizing parents don’t see themselves as empowered to make positive changes in the community. What this program does is it gives them the empowerment along with the knowledge of how systems work. So if I want to improve parent engagement in my daughter’s school district I need to understand how the school district functions and how is it designed, how is it funded.”

The program goes for 21 weeks, meeting for about four and a half hours each Monday. “It is a commitment,” Alvarez said. “We meet at the Central Library at the Kate Gleason Auditorium. We do an application process. We do an interview process as well and then a class is formed. We look to form a class of 25 students for the class and it’s a range of students from RCSD and the suburbs. It’s a mixture of students that we have.”

Ghidiu was motivated to join the program by a sense of frustration over how to drive change in her son’s school. “I didn’t really know how to make it happen as a parent,” she said. “I met a former school board member in my community who recommended the National Parent Leadership Institute as a way to get the tools that I needed to make the change that I wanted to see happen. Through the program you really learn about communities, how decisions are made in communities, how laws are made in communities and how to change the things that you want to see changed. But I think one of the greatest parts about it is that you get this sense of fellowship with other parents. You’re with them for 20 weeks in the class, but then also as an alum there’s lots of opportunities to stay connected so you get to have a much bigger perspective of parent experiences in Monroe County, the things that you may have in common with parents that you might not have anticipated, so it’s a real sense of becoming part of a movement.”

For those who are interested in learning more about the program, “A Taste of PLTI” information session will be held in the Kate Gleason Auditorium at the Central Library on South Avenue in Rochester coming up on July 24 from 5:15 to 8:00 p.m. The application deadline is August 2. Classes will begin on October 21.

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