Adults attend 'school' at Hewlett Woodmere's Parent University


Hewlett-Woodmere school district parents returned to the classroom, not for an algebra lesson, but to enhance their skills as parents at the district’s l Parent University, the first since the Covid pandemic began.

The night of learning took place at the Woodmere Middle School and offered parents of students in grades kindergarten to fifth the opportunity to choose two of six workshops.

Workshops included understanding aggressive behavior and early intervention strategies, cultivating the growth mindset in young children, managing schoolwork in everyday life, easily implementing study skills for elementary school, relieving stress and anxiety, and how parents can be the best parents they can be.

“We have two kids that are in middle school, and we wanted to start thinking of what the next transition is going to be,” said Justin Mercer, who attended the seminar on managing schoolwork with his wife, Daphne. “It’s been a little bit of time since we’ve been in middle school so trying to recall what those skills for that next step are and making sure they’re ready is really important and a big reason why we came here.”

Mary Harrison, chairwoman of guidance, and Laura Peterson, assistant superintendent for special education organized the event, which had nearly 100 parents sign up. Harrison has been in the district for 11 years and was a co-presenter for the study skills seminar.

“The parents are just thirsty to hear how you know they could better raise their families with expert guidance,” Harrison said.

Franklin Elementary Principal Lorraine Smyth and Laura Campbell co-presented the seminar on understanding aggressive behaviors. Campbell is a certified life and leadership coach, parent coach, brain health instructor and crisis counselor.

Smyth said that one of the goals was to educate families on aggressive behavior and how it affects bullying in young students. Harrison reached out to Campbell about the topic which lead Campbell to create a workshop for parents at a Franklin Early Childhood Center PTA meeting. The workshop was a success, and Campbell was invited to Parent University.

“When I presented at her [Smyth’s] school, what we found was piggybacking off of each other worked really well and it gave the greatest value to her families,” Campbell said.

“This is our second time presenting, but Laura created this whole workshop,” Smyth said. “She asked for what parents wanted to see, what would benefit them and she has run with it.”

Parents evaluated the workshops within the university at the end of the night through feedback poll sheets and parents were encouraged to suggest workshops for the future.

Amir Lambin, a  father of  a 2– and  a 4-year-old. Lambin attended the workshop on relieving stress and anxiety to build an early foundation for his children.

“How we manage communications is very important, especially how to fill that gap, in communication between our kids,” he said.

This was gold,” said Leighton Pennicott, a father of 2- and 5-year-old. He attended the same workshop as Lambin. “Something I had to learn was how to help my kids not have to learn how to handle stress the way I did. I thought this [workshop] was really helpful in the end.”