First of 3 Parent Centers Opens in Converted School Classroom

The Long Beach Unified School District has opened the first of three planned parent centers, this one at Washington Middle School.

"We want parents to be comfortable here," Ninette Richardson, parent center coordinator, said of the center, a former sewing classroom now equipped with carpeting, sofas, coffee tables, lamps and other home-like decor. "We thought some of the parents might be a little intimidated if it looked like a classroom."

The new center is part of an ongoing effort by the district to involve parents in their children's education in light of studies showing that students whose parents take an interest in their schooling do better academically.

To help parents be more supportive of the district's educational goals, the center will offer free workshops on parenting skills, math, computers, building self-esteem, English as a second language and citizenship preparation. In addition, the center will be open afternoons for parents and their school-age children to engage in shared activities such as arts and crafts.

The Washington Middle School center is expected to serve parents whose children attend central Long Beach schools. A second center is scheduled to open this spring at Barton Elementary School for parents in North Long Beach, and a third is expected to open at an as-yet undisclosed location sometime in the fall.

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