Thursday, October 25, 2012

Family Involvement in our Schools


Congratulations to the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce and the city of Watkinsville!
Since my family relocated to Oconee County in June, I have heard from numerous individuals
that the annual Fall Festival was an event too good to pass up.  They were right!

On Saturday, my family fought the unusually thick traffic downtown, found a parking place
some distance away from our final destination, and jumped on the world’s fastest hay ride to end
up with thousands of others at beautiful Rocket Field.

Upon arrival, my little girl immediately exclaimed, “Horses, ride??”  My wife marveled at the
numerous booths of handmade items that would be just perfect for our baby boy, due in a few
weeks, and I, of course, was already planning my path to the nearest sausage dog vendor.  Abby
rode the horses, petted the pig, waved to the goats, and dipped her hand in the corn pit.  My wife,
Catherine, reviewed the items available for purchase, and eventually I made it to the illustrious
food booth where I decided a fresh lemonade would add even more to the experience.

Just as I thought we had experienced it all, Abby spotted the kid zone and jumpy jumps.  After
grabbing a few tickets, and standing in line with several new friends, it was finally our turn to
jump.  My wife and I immediately made a bet that it would be our sweet little princess that
refused to get out of the jump when her time was done. To no one’s surprise, we were right.  As I
looked at my pregnant wife, I knew that the job of climbing into the bouncy was mine and mine
alone. So I put on my best superintendent’s face, climbed through the hole that seemed much
smaller than I remembered as a child, and eventually caught my two-year-old who thought this
process was the funniest thing she had seen all day.

Spent from an afternoon of great family fun in a community that we are quickly growing to love,
the Branch clan headed home for a Saturday afternoon nap in preparation for an evening of
Georgia football.  Yet, prior to departing, I stopped for a minute to once again take in the scene
of the day – the laughter of little ones, the smell of festival foods, and the beautiful fall sky.
Much like a Norman Rockwell painting, the Fall Festival harkens back to a simpler time and
highlights the value of great family experiences.  We are truly blessed to live in a community
that values these experiences for our children.

Research is clear about the impact of family involvement in our schools and our community –
involved parents equal higher student achievement and greater self efficacy.  So the next time
our schools and our community offer an event like the Fall Festival, a Friday football game, or a
Saturday afternoon performance, load up the family and take in the event.  Your student will be
better for it.

How are our schools meeting your family’s needs?  What events make a difference in your
child’s life?  Let me know your thoughts at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.

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