A winning brew for KFHS

Published 10:35 pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

When students are encountered in the school setting, their unique situations at home can be difficult to detect.

Those from poorer neighborhoods sit in the classroom alongside those from more affluent neighborhoods; and children always place less emphasis than adults on who has more and who has less.

There is value in this level-playing-field effect when it comes to student self-perception, and how teachers interact with them.

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But it also has downsides, especially for administrators who, unlike classroom educators, don’t get as much one-on-one interaction with students, which can inform about important issues at home.

The best way for administrators to apprise themselves of the individual needs of students is to meet families in the neighborhoods, and that’s just what King’s Fork High School principal Stenette Byrd III will do on Monday.

An initiative organized by the school PTSA (parent-teacher-student association), Byrd will meet with parents at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth Street, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

The main idea, according to Molly Crow, president of the PTSA, is to give parents and other family members the chance to quiz Byrd on various topics — things like the Standards of Learning, SATs, college and career options, and the relatively new King’s Fork principal’s approach to his role.

But the coffee symposium, offered with the assistance of Suffolk Parks and Recreation, will also give Byrd the chance to learn more about the needs of his students — to break through the homogenizing effect of school. Byrd and parents alike will come away with new information to help students learn and succeed.

Like a lot of city public schools, King’s Fork High has a diverse range of students. Crow speaks about holding “Coffee with the Principal” in other neighborhoods the school draws from, and doing so certainly would further enhance Byrd’s understanding of his students’ needs.

There is no suggestion here that the principal suffers any lack of understanding, but only that — for all of us and in all aspects of life — more understanding and nuance can only be a good thing.

Finally, the PTSA deserves recognition for organizing the event. Its efforts are an example of a group of parents, teachers and students who, though they may not have direct access to the levers of public education policymaking in Suffolk, still have the gumption to seize and use what considerable power they do possess.