Jonathan P. Raymond
3 min readApr 15, 2021

“The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela

Throughout Massachusetts, April 5 marked a return to full time in-person instruction for elementary school children. Throughout so many neighborhoods across the state, the annual ritual of parents taking children to school was being played out. In bizarre fashion, what is a traditional marking of the end of summer and beginning of fall was happening just as the daffodils were blooming! How natural and welcome this site looked in this most unnatural of years. And leading the way to school were parents — as they have through this whole pandemic. Our parents are the true unsung heroes of this public health crisis.

Parents are a child’s first, most consistent, and arguably most important teacher, and they’ve never demonstrated this more than during these past 13 plus months. Think of all parents have had to navigate this past year. Creating some sense of a new normal in the home. Structured routines for children struggling with remote learning. Working tirelessly to keep roofs over their families’ heads and food on the table. Dealing with their own job losses, insecurities and fears, remote work schedules, the distance from friends, extended family members, support networks, and the loss of friends and loved ones. Though it all, parents helped children cope, endure and persevere.

All over the country, parents have mobilized to demand schools reopen to serve children with full time, in-person instruction and supports. They refused to back down and appropriately held school boards, superintendents and teachers’ unions accountable for action. How extraordinary and remarkable!

Many parents who weren’t involved before have jumped in out of necessity as they navigated the enormous challenges of trying to support their children’s learning at home, and the daily struggle that this public health crisis has caused for so many.

Let’s not lose that parent energy as schools reopen! Let’s capture it and turn it into the asset we know it is, parents can be a school district’s most important partner. Schools should do everything possible to make them feel welcome and connected to the learning process. Programs like the Parent Teacher Home Visits and Academic Parent Teacher Teams are designed to do just that. School districts should create leadership pathways for parents to be active participants in their local schools and school district decision-making processes such as school site councils. Parent Academies can offer programs of interest to parents on a wide variety of topics. All of these efforts yield, for nominal investments, bountiful harvests of parent resources — people, time and dollars.

During this past year, parents do what parents do best. They give everything for their children, our most precious resource, and for this we salute, honor, and thank them.

To learn more about the Parent Teacher Home Visits and Academic Parent Teacher Teams, click the links below to visit their websites:



Jonathan P. Raymond

SVP City Year, Boston, MA and former Superintendent in New Rochelle, NY and Sacramento, CA — Views and opinions are my own