Engaging families in the Highland Bowl


from A kicking First Friday at Anderson Arts Building


with Peter Scahill, Flash in the Pan 9/24/16 [Photo: Eric O’Connor]

As I biked along South Avenue on Saturday, the Highland Bowl was dotted with color: balloons, tents and even my tall friend Peter Scahill.

In the Bowl, parents and kids were dancing, knocking plastic baseballs, getting faces painting, dunking Coach, having photo-ops with RITchie  — and looking up to Flash in the Pan.

At one First Friday, Flash and I had a “miscommunication” that led to an unkind kick.
But after seeing Peter delighting children with aerial juggling, all was forgiven.


Brandon Burris, affectionately known as “Coach” by students and staff alike

And it as a memorable day for 5 year old Kailani. According to her mom, bravely climbing solo up the slide was a first for Kailani.

I was at Rochester Prep’s second annual Family Carnival.


from Congratulations East on a magical season.

From my time in the RCSD, I’ve seen how vital parent engagement is to student success. When we followed East’s magical season, extended families gathered game after game for quality time that went beyond baseball.

From Uncommon Schools Regional Special Projects Coordinator Eric O’Connor, I learned the Carnival is just one part of Rochester Prep’s comprehensive family engagement program:


Kailani’s mom was “dead serious” that she had never before seen her daughter try something so daring.

Rochester Prep serves more than 1,800 students, the majority of whom reside within the City of Rochester, across six campuses.

Our mission is to prepare students to enter and succeed in college.  However, our schools alone cannot do this and collaboration with the families of our scholars is essential to our success.  Research shows that positive school and parent partnerships lead to higher attendance rates, higher GPAs, test scores, etc.  Every student has an advisor who checks in with parents at least every two weeks.  Curriculum and report card nights are also regularly held for parents to come into school and see what and how their children are learning.


Eric O’Connor with RITchie


Rochester Prep teachers. (l-r) Kaitlyn Coirazza, Christie Freyer, Dina Brockmann, Lauren Swaciak

These parent partnerships, coupled with other community collaborations such as our partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology, help each student reach their highest potential.  While these elements are critical to set our scholars up for academic success, we also believe in having fun and getting to know each other on a personal level.

We take care to build the “joy factor” into our school culture, and events like the Carnival are a great way to celebrate the hard work of students, families, and staff outside of the classroom.  Whether students were high-fiving the school mascot, jumping in the bounce house, dancing to the D.J.’s beats, or seeing their favorite teachers get dunked in the dunk tank, there were plenty of reasons to smile at Rochester Prep’s second annual Family Carnival.

see also “See Your Future Experience:” RIT and Charlotte complete innovative mentor program.

Saturday’s Carnival is just one more example of the importance of parent partnerships — ones thriving at Rochester Prep.


Chuck Healey calling balls and strikes at the Southside Little League 9/24/16

That sparkling morning I found some more parent engagement. Just down the road, at the Southside Fall Ball 10-and-under Little League game, Chuck Healey was calling balls and strikes before a big crowd of ballplayers, friends and family.


The Father’s Heart shines in Highland Park and elsewhere

Sadly, there will be no “Happy Ending” in Highland Park this time

Quickly overcoming adversity at the Highland Bowl