Grand View School launches Parent University
January 29, 2016 by Stacie Guthrie/Cherokee Phoenix
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Jan. 14, Grand View School held its first Parent University to inform parents and students about college and vocational opportunities, as well as grants and scholarships.
The school’s federal grants director, Margaret Carlile, said the focus was to get students thinking about higher education. She said officials from the Cherokee Nation’s College Resource Center and Career Services spoke about scholarship opportunities and available programs.
She said workers also helped parents and students apply for Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship, which students must enroll for while in the eighth, ninth or 10th grade. The student’s family income must also not exceed $50,000 per year to be eligible for the scholarship.
“It’s an amazing program. It’s not just for colleges. They can use it at vocational programs, also,” she said.
Carlile said a grant from the U.S. Education and Interior departments funds the Parent University.
“Tonight is our first Parent University for our National Youth Community Project Grant. We were one of 12 groups in the nation, and the only public school, stand-alone public school, who received one of these four-year grants,” she said.
According to a 2015 Cherokee Phoenix article, the school received approximately $341,000 for the first year with the possibility of being funded up to four years, depending on congressional approval.
Carlile said with the grant school officials want to get students interested in opportunities after they complete their high school.
“Our focus is college and career, so we’re going to be supporting students in examining careers, preparing themselves for college, and we’re doing leadership activities,” she said. “We’ve partnered with the Cherokee Nation Foundation and Northeastern (State University) and some other groups in the area to provide mentoring and (to) visit campuses.”
Carlile said she even hopes to take students to the Oklahoma State University-Institute of Technology in Okmulgee.
“I want the kids to not only think about college because you know the answer, ‘well, I want to be a doctor,’ but I want them to understand that there’s great jobs from a technical institute, also,” she said.
She said getting students on local campuses helps them feel familiar with the surroundings if they plan to attend one of the universities or institutions.
“I want them to learn that it’s not scary up there,” she said. “I want you to be able to go on that campus and say, ‘oh, I’ve been in there before.’”
Carlile said she and her colleagues try to make differences in their students’ lives.
“Sometimes you don’t know for a long time that you made a difference, but sometimes they come back and check in and say ‘I’m in school. I wanted to let you know that it made a difference,’” she said.
Carlile said school officials plan to continue the Parent University as a monthly event.
“The emphasis will be different, but tentatively we’re planning a resource fair of some sort in February. March will be a literacy event, and in April we’re going to have a family STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) night. We’ll have hands-on science activities that the children and their families will do and, we’ll just kind of be there to facilitate it,” she said.
Tahlequah resident Melissa Wofford said she attended the first Parent University to learn more about it. Her son, Caleb, attends the school and is in the fourth grade.
“I was kind of hoping to see what it was about and see what was going on up here at the school and see what opportunities they had because I heard they had gotten a grant, but I didn’t really know what it was about,” she said.
Wofford said she’s glad to see Grand View offering such opportunities.
“Grand View’s an awesome school, and they give a lot of really cool opportunities,” she said. “We’ve really, really enjoyed having our kids here.”
Carlile said in the future school officials hope to get more families coming to Parent University events.
“This is just our first step. We’re going to get better at it. Most people don’t know what we’re doing yet. It’s taken a little while to disseminate the information and the opportunities,” she said. “We have high expectations and high hopes for what we’ll be able to accomplish.”
Carlile said if anyone is interested in talking to students about careers or giving students tours of their workplaces to call at 918-456-5131.