When a group of volunteers arrived at his Eaton Street home Saturday morning to remind him about the start of public school in East Baton Rouge Parish on Wednesday, Jeremy Walker was ready.
“We’ve got everything on here,” he said in reference to a school supply list for his niece, set to attend Winbourne Elementary. “She’s all set to go.”
Walker was one of numerous parents, guardians and students more than 60 volunteers visited during two Community Back-to-School Neighborhood Walk events.
Traveling by bus from the School Board Office, volunteers from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, District Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement and truancy agencies canvassed the neighborhoods near Winbourne and Claiborne elementary schools.
The volunteers greeted residents at their homes or passing in the street, answering questions while also handing out school supply lists, informational pamphlets and enrollment forms.
“We want to make sure the people have the information they need,” School Superintendent Bernard Taylor said, while walking with the Winbourne volunteers. “If parents have questions or concerns, we want them to know that we’re taking the time to address them.”
Leading each four-member group were representatives of the district’s Child Welfare & Attendance Office, which is in charge of school registration.
Amber Boyd, principal at Southeast Middle School, said she and 15 of her faculty members took part in the walk to stress the importance of enrolling children in school, especially in what she called “high-need” areas.
“We want the kids to know we want them to come to school and that we’re prepared for them,” Boyd said. “This is basically a welcome wagon.”
Boyd said that almost every elementary school in the district sends graduates to her school, so taking part in this event helps to keep students on that track.
“Some parents don’t have transportation to get to our school, and we don’t have a city bus stop near us,” she said. “In those cases, it’s easier for us to come to them than for them to come to us.”
Winbourne Elementary Principal Brenda Wilkinson said that the walks also foster positive interaction between the community, schools and law enforcement.
“This is a team effort,” she said. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get our boys and girls involved at Winbourne and the other schools, and give them whatever they need, even it if means going door to door.”
Martha Moore, a volunteer representing the parish’s Department of Juvenile Services, said the walks play a part in reducing truancy numbers.
“Getting into the neighborhoods and talking to the parents and even the kids helps show the importance of being in school,” Moore said.
Walker said he appreciated seeing the volunteers go door to door through his neighborhood.
“It’s very nice for them to do this,” he said. “It helps to inform the parents and keep it fresh in their minds that school’s starting. It shows they really care about the kids.”
Taylor said there was no specific reason why the two schools were chosen for walks, but that the events are a start toward branching out to the entire school district.
“In a district this size, you can’t touch every neighborhood, but we’re going to do the best we can,” he said.
If parents and guardians have not registered a child for public school, they can visit or call their neighborhood school, or get more details by calling (225) 226-3463.
In addition, the school system has created a special website accessible from the district’s home page, http://www.ebrschools.org. The site contains all information related to registration and the first day of school.