The Parent-Teacher Organization at I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School gave its students and parents a Christmas vacation sendoff with its first IEJ Christmas dinner.
The parent-teacher group invited students’ families for a Christmas meal Thursday of ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, and gingerbread during students’ normal lunch periods.
“We thought it was a good thing to do to celebrate the season, and the kids were really excited to go see Santa Claus,” said Jashonda Poe, president of the I.E. Johnson PTO and mother of a third grade student. “We have a lot of parents here, which is great because we’re kind of lacking in parent involvement and we’re promoting parent activity to get the parents to come out and speak with teachers to see what they can help with, whether it’s homework or behavior problems.”
In addition to the dinner, most classes have been preparing for the holiday by infusing Christmas and other holiday traditions into their instruction time.
“We’ve been making menorahs, the candles for people that celebrate Hanukkah,” said second-grader Jaileigh Leggett.
“We made a Christmas tree out of paper and I wrote a story about a doll that ran away from home and then at the end he came back for Christmas,” added first-grade student Christopher Smith.
That morning, Santa made an appearance at the school for photos with the children.
While fees for parents’ meals and photos with Santa will be directed to class field trips in 2013, the PTO hopes that bringing parents into the school will foster further parental involvement in their children’s academics.
Poe and Parent Involvement Committee Chair Chaka Davis, a teacher at I.E. Johnson, were pleased with the parent turnout.
“I came to support my son and celebrate the holiday,” said Elwood Ratcliff. “The importance of the holiday is family and showing him that families stick together.”
Currently interning for a career as a school principal, Demetrice McMillan dropped in for lunch with her daughter Jade. McMillan, who works in Cumberland County, said that many children go through school without the active support of their families.
“I’m a high school counselor and I know how important it is to spend quality time with your children,” McMillan said. “This morning before I left she said ‘Mama, please come eat with me,’ and I can relate to the students that I work with. For some parents, the parental involvement is not there, so I try to be more involved with her school.”