When Aiken Elementary School welcomed students for the new year in 2013, parent Mary Frances Hendrix introduced a short session for parents of kindergarten and first-grade children.
“It was my idea, and the PTA supported me,” Hendrix said. “I wanted to have something for young parents and encourage them to get involved from the beginning.”
Her twin girls, Grace and Sarah, were in the fifth-grade last year, and now they’ve moved on to Kennedy Middle School. Yet Hendrix was back last week, joining Principal Becky Koelker to talk with a group of parents of the younger kids.
“I wanted to help keep this going,” said Hendrix. “Especially when you have something that’s successful.”
Catherine Dockery moved to Aiken with her family just before school started. Her son, Will, began second grade, while her daughter, Sidney, started kindergarten. Dockery’s other son, Sam, 2, seemed happy to join his mom and siblings.
Dockery was excited when Will had started kindergarten, “But I’m more sad about Sidney going to school,” she said with a smile. Her daughter, however, adjusted to her new surroundings immediately.
Hendrix and Koelker want the new parents to get involved at the school.
“I love being here,” said Koelker, a veteran teacher and administrator. “We have the best job in the world, and the kids tell you they love you. We really are rock stars.”
Aiken Elementary is a community school for the children and their parents, Koelker said. She encouraged the parents to call whenever they need to talk with her or other school personnel.
Unless there’s a special event or an activity, “you can always visit and have lunch with your child,” Koelker said.
Hendrix’s daughters attended the school from grades second through fifth, and she found so many opportunities as a parent to get involved.
“Volunteering is so great,” she said. “I encourage you to get involved. Even if it’s just little things, you are touching each child.”
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.