“This used to be a very small and closed school. Now it is communicating with the neighborhood and has an open relationship to parents”, says Oksana Koslovska, who has two kids at the school and participates in the Schools for Democracy project group.
“The school has moved away from the Soviet mentality where school was the responsibility of the teachers and the parents did not take responsibility. Now we speak openly about our rights as parents, children and teachers”, she adds.
School head Natalya Nyshta tells us how the changes came about. A key was to change the school and teachers’ communication with parents. They now use social media like facebook actively and they have changed the way they organize meetings with parents.
The school organizes four formal parental meetings every year. However, this year they changed the format.
“Before all parents sat down and the teacher read out the grades of all the children. Now we do this in individual conversations with each parent. In addition, we organize parental meetings open for those who want and have time. They are more like club meetings with specific topics, Natalya Nyshta explains.
In august, a psychologist held a talk on the relationship between parents and children, and in December, it will center around the Christmas celebrations.
“Many private schools do it this way. Why should we not try as well”, Natalya Nyshta says.
“Facebook is also very helpful. Parents comment and ask questions and I try to answer them”.
This new way of communicating has given real results. Earlier this year parents and students voted on which problems the schools should try to address. The road leading to the school is in poor conditions so the school community decided together that they should apply to the local authorities to improve it.
“The involvement of the parents was very concrete. They had to actively support the project by registering with the local authorities”, Nyshta explains.
The project won funding. This means that parents, who were reluctant to participate this time, see that it works and will be more willing next time.
“We also need to have better facilities for sports. We have a good project but need money”, Nyshta says, already preparing for the next step in the schools mobilization of parents and the local community.