Transitioning to a new school can be an overwhelming process. Whether your child is entering school for the first time in Pre-K, or transferring from a different school, there are new people to meet, policies to learn, and activities to get involved in for both students and parents.
The Host Family Ministry at St. Michael Parish School strives to make this transition easier. Dana Lashley, School Principal, had her first experience with the Host Family Ministry 20 years ago before her oldest child started kindergarten.
“When we found out we were accepted, we were paired with an exceptional family who made us feel like we were their new best friends,” Mrs. Lashley says. “Although we didn’t have kids in the same class, they walked us through our first weeks at the school with such love and compassion that we felt right at home. Over the years we’ve hosted several families ourselves, and some of those families continue to be our good friends to this day. It is an excellent way for new and established families to connect with one another.”
The Host Family Ministry matches up established, actively participating school families with families that are new. The host family becomes the point of contact for the new family in terms of getting involved in the school community.
“They reach out to the new family by phone, email, and maybe even getting together for coffee or a meal to help the new family feel welcome and to help them integrate into the life of the school community,”
Mrs. Lashley says. “This way if the new family has questions, concerns, or just wants to have some friendly faces at school events, they don’t have to walk in without knowing anyone.”
Host families sometimes have children in the same class as the new family, but if they don’t they can still help facilitate connections to other families. A New Family Orientation is hosted during the summer. During this orientation, families receive basic information such as the calendar, schedules, programs, and school policies. They are also given the chance to connect with their host family and other new school families before the school year begins.
“Host families support the school and parish by fostering community and involvement,” Mrs. Lashley says. “The more a new family gets involved, and jumps into activities, life, events, and ministries of the school, the more they feel a part of — and are invested in — our ‘family of families.’”
This ministry has not been active since COVID. However, the growth of the school to two classes per grade makes this year the perfect time to bring the program back!
If you have questions about the Host Families Ministry, contact Principal Dana Lashley at 360-754-5131.