Most parents send their children to school to prepare for college and careers. At Burns Elementary-Middle School, an Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA) school, some parents are sending their children to school and getting jobs for themselves.
One of those parents, Anntreal Hayes, had been unemployed for a year before attending a job fair hosted by Burns, where her child is a pre-K student. She left with a full-time job at a local produce packaging plant.
She said without the fair at Burns, it’s very likely she wouldn’t have been able to find work or realize what the school has to offer both her and her child.
“They have a lot of [resources] to offer the parents and the children,” Hayes said.
Since the fair, she has strived to be more engaged at the Burns school.
“She’s a wonderful resource,” said Dwayne Richardson, Ed.D., the principal of Burns.
His goal for hosting the job fairs, which began this fall, is to increase community involvement by creating meaningful resources to attract parents to the school, and so far, it has worked.
“It’s getting parents in the school,” Richardson said. “They are now comfortable to come up and talk with us and participate in their children’s educational lives and that’s the most important thing of all.”
The businesses represented at the fairs benefit from bringing on people who can start immediately.
“I applaud the efforts of Richardson and the staff at Burns,” said Veronica Conforme, Chancellor of the EAA. “Their efforts to provide links between the school and the community are something all of our schools strive to do.”
The EAA is a district tasked with transforming education for 15 Detroit schools.
“You can see the ripple effect,” Richardson said.
Hayes, for example, now comes to Burns after work and walks the halls to ensure they are clean of garbage and uses the school’s laundry room to wash students’ clothes.
The response of the Burns community has created a positive impact on the children.
In addition to increasing parental involvement, Richardson believes the job fairs will improve student performance in another way.
Richardson said having employed parents is one less stress in the students’ lives, which allows them to focus more on their school work.
“The purpose of the school is to minimize all the barriers that keep a kid from learning,” Richardson said.
Helping their parents find work is a way to knock down another of those barriers.