Jennifer Crockett, mother of two and PTA President at Stonewall Elementary, was one of three Kentucky women invited to attend the Mom Congress on Education and Learning, sponsored by a national magazine this spring in Washington, D.C.
The other moms were Myrdin Thompson of Louisville and Brenda Martin of Ashland.
The highlights of the conference, according to Crockett, included a speech and question/answer session with Arne Duncan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, who emphasized that parents should have a voice in teacher evaluations and policy matters.
Other compelling aspects of the conference included reports by the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life, a world vaccine program, and Reach Out and Read, an early literacy non-profit.
Crockett shared her experiences from the conference.
“There were two real revelations. One came with Shot@Life and vaccinations.
“We take for granted that vaccinations are so easy to get in our country. We take our children to their well-child checkups to get those dreaded shots without regard to the fact that they save our children’s lives.
“There are children all over the world dying of measles and diarrhea – two diseases vaccinations can cure.
“The reality is that one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine.
“The other revelation came when I listened to Earl Phalen of Reach Out and Read.
Earl inspired with his story of success after being abandoned by his mother and growing up in foster care.
“He started the non-profit organization that engages volunteers in two ways, either reading to kids in children’s clinics or hospital waiting rooms, or donating gently used books to be read by these volunteers.
“So many kids out there do not own a book or have not been read to by an adult or older child.
“What work will I be doing now that I have gained this incredible experience?
“I plan to hold a book drive for Reach Out and Read Stonewall Elementary, plus work with Myrdin and Brenda to coordinate a statewide book drive for the organization in conjunction with Read Across America Day in March 2013.
“Additionally, I plan to get involved in educating parent volunteers in schools throughout Fayette County Public Schools.”