While her own child is now starting law school, Sherry Jordan applies the enthusiasm she exhibited as a parent volunteer to helping other parents stay involved in kindergarten through eighth grade.
One of four parent liaisons working for the Bulloch County Schools, Jordan serves Nevils Elementary, Brooklet Elementary, Stilson Elementary and Southeast Bulloch Middle School. Federal Title I funding, targeted to help children from low-income families, supports parent liaisons for grades K-8.
"We stay busy. The mission of the parent liaison is to bridge the gap between school and family," Jordan said. "We feel like if the parent is more involved in school, the child will be more involved in school and do better, grades will be better and they'll be more likely to go on to college."
She took the job six years ago, around the time that her son Alex was finishing high school. He's now 24 and about to enter John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. Previously, Jordan was a stay-home mother and busy school and community volunteer.
Her husband, Dr. Alex Jordan, is director of the Georgia Learning Resources System district library in Claxton. Her husband and the Resources System are an inspiration, Jordan said, for the Parent Resource Lending Libraries she has stocked at each of her schools.
Nevils' parent library, for example, is packed with books, videos and learning games parents can check out to help their kids build skills. Computers are also available for parent use at each school.
When school is in session, Jordan stations herself at one of her four campuses throughout the school day, visiting each in rotation. Parents can contact her by cell phone and through a web page linked to the schools' sites.
Liaisons also put in evening hours when they attend PTO meetings and host parent education workshops. During the 2010-'11 term, Jordan staged three or more workshops at each school. Workshops on cyber bullying proved popular. Other sessions dealt with alcohol and drug awareness for middle grades parents.
In addition to major workshops, Jordan works with schools to put on family reading nights and similar events highlighting math and science. Title I funds provide child care free for parents and sometimes a snack or light meal during the workshops.
In order to help parents with special needs, Jordan keeps in touch with community organizations, churches and state agencies. She can assist with filling out a Medicaid application and has helped families find clothing and shelter after a fire.
The liaisons work together as a team on countywide projects. Last fall, they hosted the first Parents in Education Celebration, intended as an annual event. Each school, including the high schools, selected two parents who were saluted for their volunteer work and other contributions.
"Sherry is a great example of the service that all our parent liaisons provide for Bulloch County students and parents," said Monica S. Lanier, federal programs director for the Bulloch County Schools.
The other parent liaisons are Joyce Simmons, who serves Portal Elementary, Portal Middle-High and William James Middle; Leslie Wiggins at Langston Chapel Elementary, Langston Chapel Middle and Sallie Zetterower Elementary; and Paula Williams for Julia P. Elementary, Mattie Lively Elementary and Mill Creek Elementary.