Teachers' door-to-door visits aim to acquaint kids with educator - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Teachers' door-to-door visits aim to acquaint kids with educators, school

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Vinda Kutzner was standing in the backyard of her home off Northwestern Parkway on Thursday morning when she saw two familiar faces from her daughter's elementary school approach her front door.

“What a nice surprise,” said Kutzner as she greeted April Pry, the fifth-grade teacher who will be instructing her daughter this year at Atkinson Elementary, and Lisa Hirsh-Aarvig, the school's family resource center coordinator.

The two educators are among several at Atkinson and across Jefferson County Public Schools who are making home visits this summer in an attempt to build better relationships with students and their families.

“We know that some families have not had the most positive experiences with schools in the past, maybe even in their childhood,” said Hirsh-Aarvig. “We want to build trust, we want to build community and we want to build relationships so that we are true partners with our kids' families.”

Stephanie Nutter, the principal at Atkinson, said she decided to make more of a concentrated effort this summer to connect with families.

“More teachers are taking part,” she said. “And we decided to do these visits as a team so that parents get to know everyone who will touch their child's life over the next nine months.”

The visits are friendly and many are conducted on the front porch, while dogs bark in the background and kids are riding bikes or are playing with their siblings.

“We chit chat about summer, the Back to School Bash or whatever they want to talk about,” Hirsh-Aarvig said. “Families have given positive feedback and we are having fun.”

She said she hopes the visits will be “one way to strengthen home-school bonds and increase parent involvement, improve attendance and behavior and positively impact student achievement.

Many of the teachers are doing the visits on their own time, which Pry said is worth the effort.

“We focus a lot on the standards, but before you can teach, you really have to build a relationship with your students,” she said. “Getting to know your kids before the year starts is totally worth the time.”

Kutzner, who also has a kindergartner at Atkinson, said she appreciates the effort.

“They really care about the kids – and it shows when they are willing to come all the way out to your house,” she said. “It makes me feel like I won't have to worry about them as much.”

The first day of school for JCPS is Wednesday, Aug. 13.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0839 or @tkonz on Twitter. 

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