Engaging families in the Highland Bowl

Engaging families in the Highland Bowl



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 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

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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