Group Advocates for Parent Teacher Home Visits in Washoe County - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Group Advocates for Parent Teacher Home Visits in Washoe County

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Parents, teachers and religious leaders are asking Washoe County school officials to approve a program they say will help students do better in school. It's called "Teacher Parent Home Visits," and it's modeled after a successful program in Sacramento. 

On Tuesday night, nine-year-old Jennifer Tobias spoke bravely to a group of several hundred people at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada in southwest Reno. She recounted a visit by her teacher to her home. "When I found out that Ms. Bauser was coming to my house to talk to my mom, I was very scared. I thought I was in big trouble."

Jennifer went on to say that the three of them ended up getting to know each other over hot chocolate. "They got to know each other. My confidence grew and I could see that my mom was starting to trust her. My mom started to visit the school and I tried harder and harder and I did better and better," said the third grader who attends Veterans Elementary School. 

Jennifer's mom spoke in Spanish about how the visit paid off. "Now I know that she and others at Veterans elementary really care about me and my daughter Jennifer. I have visited the school many times," she said.

Some teachers say visiting a student at their home gives them a better picture. But does it help students do better at school? One local school board member says it helped her. Estela Gutierrez grew up in California where a teacher visited her home. "As a migrant child, it took a teacher, Mr. Olinghouse, to make a difference in my life," said Gutierrez. "Especially the life of my family; as a migrant family this teacher knew to visit the camp and meet my parents."

The group "Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada" -- or ACTIONN-- wants Washoe County to adopt the teacher home visits. Pat Fling of ACTIONN says they've had more than 50 meetings with community leaders. "We've met with the state boar of education, we met with legislators, we had a legislative summit, we've met with the Washoe County school board and the Carson City school superintendent and the president of the school board," she said. 

Third grade teacher Ken Rackley went to Sacramento to learn about the program. He visits students homes here in Washoe County. "The parents understand that I was not just someone that was unattainable, not able to talk with. That they were able to come and talk with me and share concerns and hopes and dreams of their children with me and it was just amazing to open that up," he said.

According to Pat Fling of ACTIONN, Washoe County school superintendent Pedro Martinez told the group Tuesday night that he'll recommend putting $200,000 toward the program in the coming budget. School board members Barbara Clark and Estela Gutierrez said they'll support the request. Organizers say it would cost about 30 dollars for a teacher to visit a student's home.

Written by Jennifer Burton

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