Bringing school home
The Wentzville School District will introduce HOME WORKS!, the St. Louis-based Teacher Home Visit Program, beginning with two schools this fall
By Brett Auten
The Wentzville School District is being proactive when it comes to early intervention.
This fall the district will introduce HOME WORKS!, the St. Louis-based Teacher Home Visit Program, beginning with two schools this fall.
Teachers and/or counselors from Heritage Primary and Pearce Hall (which houses the district’s alternative program), will visit the homes of students who have been identified as performing below grade level, have attendance or behavioral issues, are new to the community, or are in kindergarten or first grade and did not attend pre-kindergarten.
According to Heritage Primary principal Geri Buss, the goal of HOME WORKS! is to make home visits to establish trust and build relationships with parents to encourage them as partners in their children’s education in order to improve academic achievement, attendance and classroom behavior.
“Anytime we can build a relationship outside the classroom it is only going to help the academic process,” Buss said. “And it will help the parents know what we are really about.”
Buss is thrilled to be one of the first to test drive the program.
“I did ask to start the program here at Heritage Primary,” Buss said. “I’m real excited to try it out. It is a great opportunity to learn more about our students and families and one more way to help build an understanding between the school, the student, and the family.”
The program calls for two home visits each year, as well as two family gatherings at school. At the first home visit, teachers learn about the family and the home. Parents learn that teachers have the student’s best interests at heart and what they can do at home to boost their child’s learning. The second home visit is about the academic performance of the student and enables teachers to identify ways families can enhance learning at home to increase academic achievement at school.
Buss said eventually all of the teachers at Heritage Primary will be trained in the program.
“The student will have either their teacher, myself, an assistant, or a counselor from our school coming to the visits,” Buss said.
HOME WORKS! was founded in St. Louis in 2007 to assist parents of struggling students and encourage them to be actively engaged in their children’s education. It seeks to increase the capacity of parents and families to read and talk to their children daily, show they value education, and make sure their children attend school every day, all day, which is vital to student success. Home Works! will reimburse the district for half of the cost for each home visit, the full cost of two family dinners at school, as well as transportation to the dinners.
HOME WORKS! is currently operating in 14 schools in Missouri, including one early childhood center, eight elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools.
According to a study conducted by Concentric Research and Evaluation, students who participated in the teacher home visit program scored better on standardized tests and had improved school attendance, which are key metrics of educational success.
Students who received one home visit were 13-percent less likely to miss two weeks or more of school compared to students receiving no visits and students who received two home visits were 25-percent less likely to be frequently absent compared to students receiving no visits.
As far as homework, students who received one home visit scored five-percent higher on STAR reading tests than students receiving no visits. Students who received two home visits scored seven-percent higher on STAR reading tests than students receiving no visits.
“We are very excited to bring this program to the Wentzville School District,” Wentzville Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain said. “Anytime we can extend the classroom and partner with parents, we have a valuable opportunity to support student growth.”
CUTLINE: Photos by Ray Rockwell
Cover-Home1 Student Logan Pinkston and his mother Ashley Pinkston receive a visit from HOME WORKS! teacher Julie Binning. The Wentzville School District will introduce HOME WORKS!, the St. Louis-based Teacher Home Visit Program, beginning with two schools this fall.
Cover-Home2 Logan Pinkston (left) works with HOME WORKS! teacher Julie Binning.