School events seem to have very concise goals: continue child education, enhance parental knowledge of child’s education, contribute to continued parental education. And while most successful school events achieve these guidelines, there are other traits that are typically present for such an event to become a resounding success: volunteers advocating for fun the whole family can enjoy, freebies and food, and sign-ups for parental or community advocate participation in future events (for example: I almost got happily roped into volunteering for a Field Day for a school at which I have no children).
Platte River Elementary’s Family Day was a resounding success; those involved in the planning did an excellent job of ensuring inclusivity and unlimited resources for families.
Steve Graetz (the principal) invited Mikaela and I to host farm to school activities for the extent of the evening. We served up some thinly-sliced, raw radishes (97% of those who tried the radishes liked or loved them) on one table, and we seeded beans in pots and necklaces at another table .
I don’t know if it was the accessibility I enjoyed most about Family Night, or if it was the opportunity it gave Mikaela and I to speak with the parents of the students we teach agriculturally- and nutritionally- rich lessons to.
The day before Family Night, Mikaela and I had served roasted radishes to the students in the cafeteria as a taste test. It was encouraging to witness how many kids could convince their parents to try radishes because they “tried them at lunch yesterday and loved them.”
And then there was this one mother who shared a beautiful, slightly tear-jerking story:
We were at the farmers’ market the other day, my daughter and I, and she asked (I kid you not) to get some radishes! I was like, “What… radishes?? Since when do you like radishes?” And she told me: “Yeah! We tried ’em at lunch with FoodCorps — they’re so good!” This was absolutely amazing because it is so hard to get her to try new things. She’s autistic and doesn’t respond to change well. But I’ve heard that she’s been trying all of the foods you bring in, and it shows at home! She’s more likely to try new foods these days. So thank you!!
It’s touching to hear feedback like this from parents. We also learned that many families want to (or have) start(ed) a garden at home. These individuals especially appreciated the beans to go.
Not only are the parents excited for plants, but so are the kids! We had one of our students run up to us and exclaim excitedly that she started a garden at home:
I have to tell you guys something really exciting — I’m growing my own garden!! (With her arms cheering in the air.) I have tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers and some herbs and a bunch of other delicious things!”
I’m glad school events cover their three bases: student education, parent acknowledgment of student education, and parent education. But it makes me smile that they also encourage education with fun, freebies and food.