Parent Empowerment Center opens

Sen. Sue Serino, Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison joined Interim Executive Director of Community Schools Natasha Cherry and Superintendent Dr. Eric Jay Rosser to open the Parent Empowerment Center (PEC) Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.

Since it was a soft opening due to COVID-19 restrictions, only a few additional guests attended, including Board of Education President Felicia Watson, Vice President Debra Long, Community Schools Administrator Mario Johnson, parents and parent engagement staff.

The Center will offer a variety of programs, including parent empowerment workshops, English as a second language classes, voter registration help, job readiness assistance and more - look for a complete catalog coming in February.The PEC is a one-stop shop for parents. It seeks to provide assistance and support, strengthen the parent and school relationship, and provide opportunities for parents to expand their own personal aspirations.

There is also a preK-12 academic resources library, computers with internet access and job readiness help.

Jacobson spoke briefly at the event and shared this comment on his Facebook page:

Computers with internet access are available by appointment at the PEC.

“One of the highlights of this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend was attending the ribbon-cutting for the Poughkeepsie City School District's Parent Empowerment Center. 

Parental involvement is one of the most important factors - if not the most important factor - in determining a student's future success.”

Cherry said the opening of the center is just the first phase of community schools and the district’s parent engagement plan. “It creates a permanent space for parents.”

The workshops being offered will include parents’ choice topics as identified by surveys they submit at the center. It will also be driven by data based on which resources are being used by parents.

“We want to make sure that we are always meeting the needs of our parents.” Cherry said.

The first virtual workshop, “Immigration Law,” will be held next week, put on by Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. For the time being, all workshops will be virtual to meet safety requirements forced by the pandemic.

When schools open for hybrid instruction in February, parents will be able to make appointments to utilize the Parent Empowerment Center’s resources.

“This opens more doors for parents. It makes you feel more comfortable reaching out,” Stephanie Believe, who has three children in the school district, said during an interview. “I would love to bring more parents in and get them more involved in their children’s education.” 

Believe, who was asked to speak at the grand opening as well, moved to the City of Poughkeepsie about 10 years ago. She shared that the center helps parents which in turn helps their children.

“It gives them the tools to make it happen.”

Even though it just opened, the center is already attracting attention in the community and beyond.

Cherry was interviewed today by someone from the New York State Education Department for an article in a February newsletter.

“They want to showcase the PEC, they said the work we are doing to engage our parents is phenomenal.”

And, community based organizations have been calling wanting to partner with the center.