BROOKSVILLE — When Brooksville Elementary School teachers and administrators decided to go into the community to meet parents, they did it by riding the buses home with children and stepping off at bus stops.
Parents were told they were coming, and school staffers supplied goodie bags.
That initial bridge between the school and neighborhoods has evolved over six years to the most recent event, a hot dog dinner with games and visiting at the Hillside Community Center in Brooksville. Teachers and administrators visited the neighborhood recently to talk with parents in a relaxed setting with a festive air.
"This is fabulous," said second-grade teacher Loraine McLain, who has been at Brooksville Elementary for 31 years.
"It's a good way to meet parents, and we're letting the children see us in another light. And it's fun,'' she said. "It is amazing, though, the difference you see when you do something like this. Now, we're greeted with open arms."
Children threw balls, jumped rope, ate potato chips and sipped lemonade while their parents talked with teachers and perhaps signed some papers they had not had the chance to complete.
Brooksville Elementary principal Mary LeDoux said the outing is a way to be sure that parents can connect with teachers and administrators, because some may not be able to get to the school.
"It's all about relationships," she said.
Brooksville Elementary is a feeder school to Parrott Middle School, so last year Brooksville invited that school to join them. One of the things LeDoux said she really enjoys is when she sees middle schoolers hugging the teachers they left behind when they moved to the next level.
Parrott Middle School principal Leechele Booker has been to the two gatherings since her school was added. "I think the event is a great way to build the relationship between home and school," she said.
Booker appreciates how her school and the elementary school work together. "We're partners. We do a lot of things together."
Lawanza Highsmith, 39, an aunt to first-grader Breanna Williams, 6, and kindergartener Tre'vioun Frazier, 5, was there with her niece and nephew. Highsmith was in Loraine McLain's class when she attended elementary school.
"I think it's great that the schools are coming out to the people," she said. It benefits the children "by letting them know that someone does care."
Breanna said she enjoys one thing in particular: "I like the jump roping," she said.
Yolanda Lopez, 29, is the parent of sixth-grader Miranda Bryant, 12. "I think that's awesome, spending time with the kids off duty," she said. "A lot of people around might not have cars or transportation to get to them. Kids can make other friends that they may not make in school."
Lopez said she found out about an upcoming carnival at Brooksville Elementary that she was not aware of because her child attends Parrott Middle.
As for Miranda, her favorite part of the gathering, she said, was "hanging out with my friends."