Parent university to teach new skills

Published 11:19 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Moms and dads will learn how to “foster learning at home and build stronger families” during Saturday’s inaugural Suffolk Parent University.

The free event, sponsored by Suffolk Early Childhood Commission and Suffolk Public Schools, will take place at King’s Fork Middle School from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Registration starts at 8 a.m., with the first speaker appearing at 8:30 a.m.

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“Suffolk Parent University will offer a wide variety of topics for parents that will foster learning at home and build stronger families,” Bonnie Maki, parent relations facilitator with Suffolk Public Schools, wrote in an email.

“Parent University breakout sessions will focus on areas that support parents in ways that empower them to enrich or supplement their child’s education and safety at home and school.”

Educational consultant Melissa McQuarrie, a mother of four and also a teacher, will host the first session, Parenting with Love (Not Fear), a news release states.

“Our worries for our children form the basis of how we parent them, leading to decisions that are not necessarily in their best interest,” the release states, giving some insight into McQuarrie’s session.

“This keynote will take you off the hook and teach you how to let your heart show you the way to effective parenting.”

Participants will be able to attend four workshop sessions and visit resource tables from community organizations.

Examples of the various workshop sessions include 101s of Positive Discipline, with Old Dominion University early childhood education professor Katharine Kersey; Parenting the Strong-Willed Child, with Sandra Fabian from the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters; and Fathers Raising Readers, by Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Deran Whitney.

“The mission of Suffolk Parent University is to provide an opportunity for parents to sharpen their skills as they work in one of life’s most important and demanding roles as a Suffolk parent,” Maki continued.

Maki said school district Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Chavis approached her last year about collaborating with public information officer Bethanne Bradshaw to host Suffolk’s first parent university.

“One of Suffolk School Board’s goals is to strengthen collaboration with stakeholders and increase parent and community satisfaction,” Maki remarked. “We began a collaboration with Suffolk’s Early Childhood Development Commission and Suffolk Public Schools’ Title I Department to bring this to the parents in Suffolk.”

The university has been several months in the making, according to Maki, with the Suffolk Early Childhood Development Commission, the Department of Social Services and Suffolk Public Schools having worked together on funding and arranging presenters.

“We would like to make this an annual event if funding is available and parent participation is good,” Maki wrote.

To register, visit