Parent Perspective with Hiko and Heather McGinnis
Hello Highlands Families!
We are excited to meet you via the blog and are really looking forward to the opportunity to meet you in person at some point if we haven’t already! This week’s post and tips will focus on parent involvement.
For us, parent involvement began with Hiko volunteering to be the soccer coach for our Kindergarten girls’ team at Highlands. Luckily for Hiko, the summer of 2018 included a World Cup soccer event and lots of speed learning prior to taking on this role. Little did he know that teaching Kindergarteners to play soccer is more like herding cats than coaching Ronaldo.
Team sports are definitely a great way to get involved at Highlands. You learn the names of your child’s peers first (as you are cheering for them on the field), then you learn the names of their parents. Before you know it, you are apologizing to a fellow parent for screaming into their ears because you discover that you are “that mom.” (It’s okay though because there are many moms like you 😊) Then you decide to go to lunch or grab pizza after the game with interested families and voila! friendships develop, and life happens – creating a space where all of us benefit from the support we have found.
The Highlands Happenings weekly newsletter is like the cliff notes you rushed to get in college before the big test when you didn’t have time to read the whole book. This has loads of important information including ways to be involved at school and interact with other parents. Pay attention, really! Otherwise, your child may convince you that it is pajama day, and you will trust their judgment only to learn you are a couple of days early. Then again, who can’t use an extra pajama day? Worse yet, is the morning surprise of crazy hair day without a plan or hairspray to achieve what your 1st grader has imagined. If you happen to miss Highlands Happenings, then you can go to the Highlands School web page https://www.highlandsschool.org/ and LOGIN (top right of web page) to Highlands PULSE for access to endless resources including the school calendar, needed addresses, school lunch, etc.
Involvement at Highlands School can also be achieved by being active in your child’s classroom. Every classroom has a room parent, and every grade has a grade level representative. Establishing a relationship with these individuals is so helpful; they tend to be very knowledgeable and give very good guidance. For example, when you are trying to find an easy, last-minute, COVID acceptable party snack or when your child is telling you it is "Dress up Like a Superhero" day tomorrow and you are not sure.
Shea Seaman is the chair of the Parents Auxiliary group, and they make the happenings happen at Highlands. Whether you are planning to buy a t-shirt or sweatshirt (Merchandise), show those teachers you appreciate them (Faculty and Staff Appreciation), love the library, or have a great idea of how to connect families at Highlands (Parent and Family Engagement), there is a group for that! Sign up for events on the Auxiliary page of Highlands PULSE. Be on the lookout for Special Events and Fundraising Events at Highlands that create opportunities for involvement and realizing what cool and interesting people are a part of Highlands. If you need to change your contact info, your profile on Highlands PULSE is the best way to make that happen.
Admittedly, Hiko is our family’s social/school representative and coordinator, and he has been involved as a volunteer in multiple activities at Highlands: soccer coach, classroom parent, Fall Festival 2019, and school merchandise. Hiko volunteers me to help when he needs me, and I show up. (Don’t laugh! If you get to know Hiko, he may volunteer you for activities as well. Just ask the 3rd grade parents!) However, I will say that I am thankful for his gentle push to be involved and that being part of the Highlands community has been very positive and has led to some very dear friendships for our daughter and for us!
Hiko McGinnis is a new counselor with the Highlands Extended Day Program, and he works primarily with 4K, 2nd and 3rd graders. He was born in Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Lincoln, Alabama. Dr. Heather Austin (McGinnis) is a Pediatric Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UAB. She was born in Syracuse, New York, grew up in Augusta, Georgia, but has spent most of her life in Birmingham, Alabama. Heather has enjoyed participating in Parent University (and randomly volunteering for events when Hiko signs her up 😊). Hiko and Heather are the proud parents of Emi McGinnis who is in the 3rd grade.