Cap Times examines efforts to enhance relationships between teachers, kindergartners

Beth Vaade, a program evaluation specialist with the Madison School District and co-director of the Madison Education Partnership (MEP), said the hope is to forge a bond with families so when kids go from four-year-old kindergarten to five-year-old classes “on that first day, they’re feeling like this is a safe place, this is a place that cares about me, and a place that I want to be part of.”

The partnership is a research effort between the district, the UW–Madison School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research and community members. MEP aims to improve educational outcomes. Also leading the project is UW–Madison’s Eric Grodsky, a professor of sociology and educational policy studies.

Grodsky said the project, which involved two summer home visits from 11 teacher volunteers from seven Madison grade schools, doesn’t provide resources to families. But it will hopefully make parents more comfortable with communicating with teachers and school officials to advocate for their kids, and make teachers more receptive to families when they reach out.

“Let’s take me,” Grodsky tells the Cap Times. “I’m pretty comfortable calling a teacher. I’m pretty comfortable calling a principal and saying this is what my kid needs and advocate for my kid. I can understand when teachers and administrators reach out to me, and I’m not particularly shy about responding because they’re the people I went to school with, they’re my neighbors, they’re my friends. That’s not true for a lot of families in our district.”

To learn more about this project, check out the entire Cap Times report online for free.