Parental involvement in the educational process is a crucial factor for children to achieve academic success. At Epiphany, all families agree to work at the school for a minimum of two hours each week in lieu of tuition, doing such essential jobs as preparing school meals, carpooling, cleaning, tutoring, answering phones, and helping in the library. This is a huge help to the school, and it also supports greater parental involvement.
Epiphany makes it a priority to provide support to families as a way of supporting each child. We hold regular meetings to discuss important topics related to student learning and as well as issues important to our parents –e.g., issues around healthcare, housing, and employment. Epiphany has hosted programs with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), employment agencies such as Strive and Career Collaborative as well as seminars to share information with families on a diverse range of topics, such as the earned income tax credit and MassHealth. We send home weekly mailings and regular progress reports and communicate regularly with parents and guardians, both in person and over the phone. The result is that parents and guardians become wonderfully engaged in the life of the school.
Cynthia Harris sought out Epiphany when she was in search of a better education for her children. She met John Finley at various neighborhood advisory meetings and was interested in the idea of Epiphany. Since then, Mrs. Harris has had four children attend Epiphany, and her family has been a part of the Epiphany community since 2001.
What keeps you coming back to Epiphany?
We have remained an Epiphany family for more than a decade regardless of the long hours and extended school year. It may seem daunting at first, but the truth is most parents who are truly invested in their child’s education are going to put in long hours and create an extended school year anyway: extracurricular activities, educational and cultural outings, tutoring or academic enrichment programs/groups, etc. At Epiphany, we are given the opportunity to provide that for our children. Here, it is a part of the natural flow.
What has your experience been at Epiphany?
My family and I have been through more memories than I have time to discuss: the most memorable are watching the Epiphany “family” be there for a student who lost her mom, gathering goods to send to the families displaced by Katrina, accepting children into the school who had come to live with their aunt after Katrina. It comes down to having the support of the Epiphany family. There are cookouts, holiday concerts, the Gala, Teacher Appreciation Day, and Graduation. I still cry at every graduation. All of this time together helps to form an extended family.
When have you witnessed fortitude from a particular Epiphany community member?
This year my son told me he was having a hard time “processing” my requests and instructions. These are not words you hear every day from a 13 year old; they made me stop and think, “Is this a trick to get out of his chores, or was I rattling off orders without thinking through his ‘learning style?’” First I heard the phrase; then I listened to what he was really telling me. He wants to contribute, but he needs help understanding and prioritizing. He could have just halfheartedly done some version of the work, and he could have created a distraction, but since he has embraced the Epiphany community and they him – he can say, “I need help understanding.” It takes fortitude to admit that we need help, and that we sometimes do not understand each other. My family and I have learned a great deal about how others learn since we have been at Epiphany, and I am grateful for it.
Download the Epiphany Parent Covenant here.