Home visits foster relationships between teachers and families, when teachers visit with no homework or forms, just a desire to learn more about their students.
Usually, teachers are seen as authority figures by parents. They may only see the teacher when there is something negative going on with their child. "Now they are in their home, their territory. They see (the teacher) as another human being and someone who cares about their child," said Lincoln Park Lincoln Park Middle School social worker John Nachtsheim. "There is no way this is not going to benefit the student."
Last year, Lincoln Park received a $50,000 grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. The grant funds the parent-teacher home visits, which the foundation hopes will narrow the "opportunity gap" between kids who live in poverty that those who do not. However, the efforts are not aimed at just one group of families but all kids and families. The program is voluntary, and is cementing Lincoln Park's efforts to be a "community school", offering family support, and social and health services.
Visits make it it easier for parents to connect with teachers. The school is built high on a hill and not on the transit line. 25 percent of families do not have a way to get to the school for meetings. They also make it possible to learn what parents want for their kids and expect of them, and what the kids want for themselves. This way, kids who are successful are kept on the path, and those who are struggling can receive the help they need to become more successful.
"I think it's going to change how we do things here," he said.