Empowering Parents

Alumna develops program to help support Toledo Public Schools

Georgoff

By Bob Cunningham

Even though Maddi Georgoff is barely out of college, she’s creating an innovative program to help parents of K-12 students get involved in their education.

Having graduated Magna Cum Laude in May from Bowling Green State University, Georgoff is already putting her bachelor of arts degree in sociology to good use by serving the Toledo community as the Parent Engagement and Resource Coordinator with Partners in Education.

Georgoff is developing Parent University for Toledo Public Schools, a new initiative she started that offers free classes and resources to parents.

“Something that college and Bowling Green overall instilled in me is adaptability and being able to see my age as an advantage because I have a different perspective,” said Georgoff, who grew up in Millbury, Ohio. “And even though I’m not an education major, my sociology perspective brings in new ideas and new possibilities.

“I have to be very adaptive because I don’t have the experiences of parents. So, I’m really seeking out that input from other parents so that I’m the behind-the-scenes coordinator. I’m the one making sure that the job gets done, but ultimately the message is coming straight from the parents.”

Parent University is a program that “supports, engages, and empowers” parents who have children in Toledo Public Schools.

For instance, math isn’t taught the way it was when many parents were in school. With Parent University, school administrators and math teachers can better explain to parents the new ways of teaching math. The interaction builds a trusted line of communication between parents and teachers, and also the parents feel more confident in being able to help their children with their homework.

There are several classes offered, including classes to better understand standardized testing as well as ways to discipline children in a positive manner.

“At the Parent University, we really want to emphasize we’re not trying to teach parents how to parent or tell them that they’re doing it wrong,” said Georgoff, who started at Partners in Education as an intern during her final semester at BGSU. “Our primary goal really is parent engagement and connections between the community and the parents and the schools. While a lot of the classes are introducing new ideas and new ways of parenting, we also want to empower parents to create and lead their own classes.”

Georgoff envisions having that “parent-to-parent education and education happening organically.”

She has always been passionate about community involvement and her activism. During her time at Bowling Green, she was a civic action leader and the founding president of BG Alternative Breaks, service trips that take place during the breaks in the school year.

“And as a civic action leader I proved a value of mine was collaboration and inclusivity of the community, so resources weren’t duplicated, but expanded.”

Georgoff said her experience with the alternative breaks program equipped her with the skills necessary to be able to create a program outside of a college atmosphere. 

“There are some parallels I found to the alternative break program and the programs that I am creating because there are a lot of different moving parts to the programs,” she said. “And a lot of it depends on other people, but in a good way. It really strengthens the community because of the collaboration. Making sure that you’re inclusive and intentional when you’re working with communities is the best way to have a strong program and a strong collaboration and to be mission driven.”

Even though Parent University is in its infancy, Georgoff is hoping to get as much community engagement as possible.

“We also realize that this first year we might have a lot of parents who are already engaged, who are already coming to the PPO meetings, or are involved in Parent Congress,” she said. “But the goal for the next two years is to reach out to those parents who could drastically benefit from this program and the connections that they would make because of the Parent University.”

Some of those connections include making sure low-resource families have access to the program’s resources or administrators being able to identify resources that would address families’  immediate needs. 

Partners in Educations lists all of its programs in a catalog that is sent to every Toledo Public Schools student. Also, free transportation and childcare is provided for every event.

Creating Parent University has made Georgoff even more appreciative of her own parents. 

“It’s interesting to see things from this perspective and it makes me much more thankful for my parents,” she said. “To see everything that I’ve put them through and the different worries that they had on a day-to-day basis. It’s just really grounded me in the belief that parenting is an incredible role and it’s often not appreciated to the degree that it really should be.” 

For more information on the Parent University, go to http://bit.ly/1VbcPqi.