EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A Metro East nonprofit is working to get parents and adults into the classroom.
The Parent to ParaPro Pipeline Program, through Community Development Sustainable Solutions, has partnered with East. St. Louis Schools to train and get more educators in schools across the state.
The program has multiple phases, starting with getting adults involved with mentoring. Then after 100 hours, which is about a school year, participants advance to the next level of training. The process is designed to slowly work people to the point where they are actively involved in the classroom.
Right now, organizers said there are 21 parents in the program, six more have already worked their way up to working hands on in classrooms in the Metro East.
"I really actually just enjoy being hands on and working one on one in small groups with those students," Whitney Roberson, a mother and educator said. "We are able to fill in those gaps."
Roberson has a paralegal background. During the pandemic she left that role to focus on her children who were learning from home. Now, she wants to help make sure other children have the care and attention they need to succeed in life.
"It's so important, it's something I definitely noticed when I was doing virtual learning with my seven-year-old, he's in second grade," Roberson said. "It's amazing how much work they have to do on their own during virtual learning. I know that there aren't enough parents who have the ability to stay home with their children's to do virtual learning. We are able to fill in those gaps and provide extra 1-on-1 training for children who need it."
Parent to Parapro Pipeline CEO Stephanie Taylor said the program is important for educating the next generation of leaders.
"Teachers understand that parents being active in the education of their children does produce an increased educational outcome," Taylor said.
Taylor said this program is the only like it in Illinois. Taylor is helping other districts across the state set up similar programs in the future. She said it's already helped address the statewide teacher shortage.
This is an accredited apprenticeship program for people who want to get a career in education.