Parent Empowerment Forum Hosted by Matthew Gilbert

Shown is Betty Burney, Jonathan Stacey and Travion Freeman
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Shown is Betty Burney, Jonathan Stacey and Travion Freeman

by William Jackson

At the very heart of student success is strong parental involvement. According to several studies, no matter their income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school.
Locally, a recent Parent Empowerment Forum at Matthew Gilbert Middle School was held to encourage and celebrate the success of students that earned high academic honors in school. Special awards were also provided to students that earned honor roll with high academic achievement.

The I’m a Star Foundation and Bridge to Success have partnered with the Gilbert to bring additional programs to students that build leadership skills, teaches community engagement and helps establish career goals. Program organizers say that students are mentored, counseled, respected and encouraged to grow beyond their expectations.

The Duval County Public School System has increased it’s graduation rate partly because of the dedication and sacrifices of initiatives like this one, which is designed to move students higher academically and socially. A critical program goal is to empower students with skills that will help them compete in the job market and break the cycle of under and unemployment.

The evening featured special community guests that provided words of encouragement, confidence building, social skills, faith and wisdom. Event speakers included Ale’ta Turner, who spoke about understanding and preventing bullying and harassment in school. Jonathan Stacey, youth minister at The Oak Baptist Church and weatherman at News4Jax who shared his story of faith, hope and educational excellence

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