Forum to give grandparents help raising grandchildren

By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The fast-paced world of today can be taxing for any parent, but for grandparents serving as primary caregivers for their grandchildren, simply navigating the ins and outs of the education system can be even more demanding.
That’s why Bridging the Gap, Inc., is hosting a Back-to-School Educational Forum especially for grandparents, in conjunction with Parents for Public Schools and LIFT, Inc.
The first session will take place July 30 from 10 a.m until noon at the LIFT, Inc., offices at 2577 McCullough Boulevard in Tupelo. This session will be used to assess grandparents’ needs and issues.
A follow-up session will be held Sept. 6, also from 10 a.m. until noon at LIFT. In the second session, Tupelo Public School District’s Mary Ann Plasencia will address school-related issues from grandparents and discuss problems raised in the first session.
There is no cost, but preregistration is required by calling (662) 407-0667 or emailing bridge_the_gap@att.net
“Grandparents are long removed from the education system,” said Mary Marion, founder of Bridging the Gap. “So they face a unique set of barriers.”
Marion said the methods for communicating with teachers have become more reliant on technology, using websites to post grades, homework and project rubrics. In addition, the very language of assignments is more complicated.
The first part of the forum will invite grandparents to give their input on issues they face, which could be anything from transportation to finances to accessing school services.
“There is no use in trying to solve a problem if the people you’re trying to help aren’t at the table,” Marion said. “Especially with this kind of problem because each situation is so unique.”
Doris Renshaw, who along with Marion is a graduate of Parents for Public Schools’ Parent Leadership Institute, will help coordinate the forum. Renshaw has experienced raising her grandchildren herself.
“Now days, a grandparent must have legal guardianship to check a child out of school and things like that,” Renshaw said. “Grandparents are hesitant to ask for help because ultimately they fear someone will take their grandchildren away from them. We want to give them a resource they can trust and turn to for help.
“The forum will bring grandparents together and show them they’re not alone in their situation.”
riley.manning@journalinc.com