Project Press: making education a priority where we live

We read in the local newspaper of Project Press, an effort by the Kinston-Lenoir County branch of the NAACP to engage parents more fully in their children’s education. We have two words to say about that: Thank you.

That a school district, its administrators, teachers and elected leaders, should be grateful for an initiative that recognizes the value of parental involvement in education is probably beyond obvious. People at home are on a par with people at school in ensuring academic success. But Project Press also elicits our gratitude because it acknowledges another truth about K-12 education: it’s the work not only of a school system, but also of the community that school system represents.

When a community institution as respected here as the NAACP accepts a role in making young people better students and, over time, laying the groundwork for fulfilling lives, it shows community involvement in education that is as welcome as it is rare. Some other community groups have stepped up in support of student learning — Kinston Promise Neighborhoods, Sampson Community Life Center, the Boys & Girls Club of Lenoir County, among others — but generally the work of awakening young brains is seen as the job of schools exclusively.

In a way, that’s understandable. A school system is usually such a huge entity in relation to others where they operate — an expansive enterprise with a great many employees and an impressive footprint — that it dominates the line of sight when people focus on societal issues. Whether it’s crime in the streets or the vestiges of segregation or the impact of poverty, no problem seems to some people beyond the reach of a school system’s influence. The truth is, though, that community problems originate in the community and find their way into the schools, not the other way around. We do what we can — two meals every school day free of charge, an environment as safe as we can possibly make it, a nurturing atmosphere — but no one entity, be it the churches or the schools or local government, is going to have as much impact working alone as it will working in partnership with others who share the same goals.

Project Press’ goals square up with LCPS goals perfectly. The more parents help with homework, monitor school assignments, get involved with their school’s PTA and generally become partners in their children’s education, the better off the school and its students will be. More specifically, when Project Press emphasizes the need for young people to set career goals — and for parents to help them sort out the possibilities — the NAACP here is singing out of our songbook.

A couple of programs LCPS has initiated over the past two years with the help of Lenoir Community College — Career and College Promise and High School to College Career Pathways — not only help students identify possible careers but also make it easier for them to get a head start on the college-level courses that will get them into that line of work. Our long-active Career and Technical Education program is forging direct links between our high schools, our students there and Lenoir County manufacturers and businesses that very much want to develop a pool of reliable, capable local employees. In the near future, we’ll be engaging middle-school students in programs designed to connect their fields of interest with potential career fields. Like good parents, like the people behind Project Press, LCPS wants nothing more than to set students on the right path and see them graduate not only with a diploma but also with a plan.

Any school teacher and any school system would appreciate parents and other adults at home enlisting in the educational process. That Project Press promotes that partnership cannot help but be a value to LCPS. That the local NAACP is raising community awareness about the value of education cannot help but be a value to Lenoir County.

For parents interested in learning more about Project Press, the next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Carver Courts Complex.
For more information about Project Press, contact Liilie Williams at 252-523-8098 or James Mumford, president of the Kinston-Lenoir County NAACP at 252-526-8659. For more information about LCPS’s career-oriented programs, parents can speak to our high school counselors or call the district office at 252-527-1109, Ext. 1022.