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Wilson Unity movement sets out to address inequities

With only a fraction of Wilson parents able to attend back to school night and or parent-teacher conferences, a large portion of the school community is left in the dark as to what students are learning and how the school functions.

In early September, a group of staff members led by history and human geography teacher Aaron Besser gathered to develop a solution. “I got a bunch of teachers together and we brainstormed a lot of different ideas like, ‘what does this mean to us and what do we want to do at Wilson?’,” said Besser. “Wilson needs to be a more accessible environment for students, parents, and members of the community who do not necessarily have access to the school building itself.” The answer was the Wilson Unity Movement.

The first large event was on December 6. It was designed to be, “an alternative information night in southeast DC for parents who don’t live near here or who were unable to get here for conferences or back to school night, in the hopes of finding more ways to engage them,” explained besser.

The formal proposal for the Wilson Unity Movement was submitted to Principal Kimberly Martin, outlining the specific goals that the committee has for the program. The suggested solution in the document was, “to host a three-hour program that will include a short information session where families can learn about their child’s courses and at least two hours dedicated to one-on-one conferences and/or Q&As about classes.”

There are specific steps that the members of the Unity Movement would like to take toward greater improvement. The first of these is to “engage families from areas farther from Tenleytown and provide them with an opportunity to meet with their children’s teachers and receive updates on their children’s classes at a venue closer to their homes and or workplaces,” according to the proposal. The one quantitative goal of the movement is to engage at least 80 families at the event.

Before December 6, there were a series of boxes that needed to be checked off if the event was going to be successful. It was necessary to have at least one from each grade and content area present at the event.

On the date of the event, “We had about fifteen parents come and probably 30 to 40 wilson staff members. I would call it a success, but obviously something that we need to build on,” said Besser. The group of teachers will continue to meet weekly to discuss steps moving forward and goals for the future especially with regard to attracting more parents to the event.

“In a perfect world we would have been able to engage 150 to 180 families, but, you know we only had 15. Now that we have the ground work done and we know how to run an event like this, it would be great to do it again in the spring.”

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