A night of community involvement

January 19, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — Milk and Cookies Night is not just about the milk and the cookies, Ava Smith says.

The first-grade teacher at Desert Valley Elementary School has invited her students’ families in for a meet-and-greet the past four years.

She said the event is to keep parents abreast of what’s going on in the classroom.

Smith said she also wanted to give the family members “a look at what it’s like to be a first-grader.”

She discussed what the students have done so far and upcoming activities. She also talked about the importance of reading at home.

For parents, Smith said, the evening represented an opportunity to “see me in action with their babies.”

The families took advantage of that opportunity. Smith said that 76 family members attended with 19 of her 21 students in attendance.

“This was the best — strongest — turnout ever,” she said. “It has now grown every year.”

One area of the room was set up as a “shopping corner,” from which students could take school supplies and other gifts. She said that she’s been told by students that they hadn’t done their homework for lack of a pencil or other needed item.

“I want them to have everything they could possibly need at home,” she said.

For parents, Smith set out resources with tips on helping children with reading and math.

Smith said first grade is important because in it, the children will be developing their academic foundation for success in later grades.

Toward the end of the event, Smith discussed “The Kissing Hand,” by Audrey Penn and Ruth E. Harpe. The class will be studying the book and its message of love.

The families then had a project to do — each student cut the outline of his or her hand out on paper, wrote the names of family members on the fingers and decorated it.

The hands will stay in the classroom, as a reminder that each child now has two families, Smith said.

“They have family at home,” she said. “We’re family here. Now we’re family together.”

Darlene Myers, mother of first-grader Mason Flory, said he’s been anticipating Milk and Cookies Night for a while. She said she found the interaction with Smith useful, because the teacher is very informative.

Irie (CQ) Persons begged to attend the event, her mother, Heather Harris said.

“It’s really good to see that she loves all the kids the way she does,” Harris said.

She said that she now feels better prepared to help Irie through the rest of the school year.

Harris said that Smith’s presentation gave her confidence that the teacher has strategies for helping students get prepared for second grade.

Tables set up in the classroom included boards detailing previous Milk and Cookies Nights. Parents were asked to fill out a survey, which Smith says she will use to design next year’s event. Her classroom helpers were parents of former students.

Target donated $150 to sponsor the event, and Smith’s, Walmart and Discount Tire also made contributions. A parent donated a $20 check at the event, Smith said, and a student brought a gallon of milk and a bag of cookies.