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What you should know before sending your child back to school this fall?

back to school

I had the pleasure and opportunity to interview Principal Ms. Dorothy Hansfield of Central Office located in downtown Newark, NJ.


Today’s interview will focus on getting parents and students back into a positive mind-set of having a productive school year by making parents more knowledgeable of safety policies, actively communicating with your child’s teacher, discussing how to get involved and stay involved in their child’s academic growth, and so much more.
Ayasha: As we head back to school, how can parents prepare their children for the upcoming school year?
Dorothy Hansfield: Basically, communication is key, which I always found you have to talk to the teachers to see what their expectations are for their class and your child throughout the school year. Sometimes I will find the parents will go out at the beginning of the school year and buy all these school supplies, school clothes, etc. then I’m like okay so when do you get to sit down and talk to the teacher? Did you go to the open house? Did you ask what type of class assignments your child be working on and their homework assignments? Especially now, we have the High State Test throughout the year which every public school child is required to take. These are just some of the conversations that the parents should be having with their child’s teacher throughout the school year. I think it great that you are going out and buying all these supplies, but it is like having tools and you don’t know how to use them. I just really believe that communication is key.

get inv

Ayasha: This is a two part question: How far in advance do you recommend for parents to get all their children documentation together when registering their child into the school especially if it is the first time? What are your suggestions for 1st time students enrolling into public school this year?
Dorothy Hansfield: Getting your child’s immunization shot records and any requested or additional information you need the day of registering your child into school. Gathering all your child’s documentation ready for registration should be done months in advance like three to four months, especially if you are enrolling more than 1 child into school this fall. You can’t get your child into a school without your child being registered.

As far as the 1st day of school, I know that most parents work. However, if you can come to the school to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and the class aid. Then ask when is the school’s Open House in order to get a feel for the class. With that done, the child will understand how invested their parents are in their school and education. I’m here and we are working together as educators and parents. Again that bring us right back to the communication piece which is key.


Ayasha: So communication is key for the parent to really be actively involved with your child’s interaction, behavior, academics, and activities on campus and off school grounds.
Dorothy Hansfield: Right!
Ayasha: When a child lives in a specific neighborhood or section of the city or town and they are transferring from one school to another, what has your experience been when seeing new students in your school for the 1st time? How were these kids able to adapt or even make a successful transition?
Dorothy Hansfield: The kids that make the easiest transition are the kids who are involved in organized neighborhood activities. No, I’m not talking about where you just let your kids outside of the house and they are running around the neighborhood. I am talking about the kids who are involved in some type of neighborhood sport and they interact with other children so when they start school it is not that big of a deal. It is a matter of getting them to learn how to get around the building, learning the teachers and staff. The interaction with their peers, that’s key, because it makes a big difference of how they adjust and transitioning into their new school. For instance, the kids that play Pop Warren, or in a Basketball League, or Cheerleading League, they maybe be new to the building, and I did not know them, but the other kids will know them because they are involved in a neighborhood activity together, or they know them from the block association. This is half of the battle right there because we are able to learn from the children.
Ayasha: WOW that definitely gave me a lot of insight. Okay, so in most cases, the current students already know the new students so it makes transition easier for the student, teachers, and staff.

Dorothy Hansfield: Yes, that’s helps out a lot. I know that some schools, especially high schools have The Bridge program. They have the students to come to their new schools a week or few days before school officially starts just for the new students to get to the know the campus, some of the teachers that help out, so it is not fresh or brand new to them the 1st day of school. The students have already gotten know the building, know where the location of the cafeteria, the gym, or knowing who are the key people just in case they have any problems.


Ayasha: What would your suggestions be to parents who give their children money for class trips or on-campus school events?
Dorothy Hansfield: Well every school district is different. Some school districts charge and some school districts don’t. It is pretty hard to give advice on that, but we don’t charge our students. We try to do something free for the children because everyone cannot afford to go. I don’t think we ever charge for our students to go on any class trips. However, some school districts you are going to pay for lunch and transportation, it depends on the districts. I tell our parents not to send their children to school with any money because there is really no need for it.
Ayasha: Again as we approach brand new school year, what would be your recommendations as far as safety is concern?
Dorothy Hansfield: Safety is always first…You have to understand that the world we live in has changed. People are more violent. When you think about shooting in schools that was something unheard of when we were in school. We have to take this very serious and a lot of parents that I have spoken to do understand that we had to change our policies in the school districts and schools of how we had visitors come into the building. A lot of parents have been very cooperative because they want their children to come home.


Ayasha: Correct!

Dorothy Hansfield: Parents have to be more knowledgeable of the new policies that are enforced by the schools and stay cooperative. Some people might think or say that nothing like that will happen here, we can’t say that anymore. You never know what people are thinking or what may happen so we have to be very cautious and I believe cooperation is key. Those days of just walking into a school building, are gone. We have step up our safety policy of checking ID of all visitors and having everyone going through metal detectors. We can’t take life or anyone’s safety for granted anymore.

Ayasha: I agree!

Ayasha: What type of clubs would you suggest for parents to be actively involved in?

Dororthy Hansfield: If the school, has a PTA which stands for Parent Teacher Association, or PTO or whatever Parent Association their child’s school has you join and get involved. I always tell the parents you have more power than what you think you do. The parents are the voices for their child. I don’t take it personal when a parent comes in and they are concern about something, well thats your child. Again parents have a lot of power more than what you know.pta

On that note, I want to thank Dorothy Hansfield for taking  time out of her busy schedule to share her knowledge and tips with us for about this upcoming school year. Thank you to all the viewers and our readers for reading our very 1st edition of Life & Culture. Make sure you check back in September.

Have a productive and proactive School Year!


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