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Van-Far Parents as Teachers introduce ‘Welcome to the Tribe’

Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 4:04 am


By Woodrow Polston

The Van-Far R-I School District has announced that it will be working with Van-Far Parents as Teachers to implement a new initiative to their program. This element, known as “Welcome to the Tribe,” will give Parents as Teachers the opportunity to provide a basket of goods to the parents of new babies that are born within the school district.
“We are paying for the baskets through the Parents as Teachers funds that are allotted from the school each year,” said Parents as Teachers Educator, Lori Culwell. “The area hospitals are great about sending me an email with details about births in the Vandalia area,” she added.
The “Welcome to the Tribe” baskets that are being provided to new parents include a package of diapers, a book, a list of local resources, and a onesie with “Welcome to the Tribe” and the Van-Far Indian logo on it. More than just a nice gesture on part of the school, this is an opportunity for Parents as Teachers to reach out and express their passion for education and community, she noted.
In the early 1980s Missouri pioneered the concept of helping parents embrace their important role as their child’s first and best teacher. Today, Parents as Teachers continues to equip early childhood organizations and professionals with information and tools that are relevant and widely applicable to today’s parents, families and children.
“Our goal is to make more of our families feel welcomed into our school family,” said Culwell. “Through this initiative we are able to celebrate with them as their families grow. Alida and her daughter, Harper, are the first recipients of this new effort. Alida was pleased with the basket that she received,” she added.
The concept for Parents as Teachers was developed in the 1970s when Missouri educators noted that children were beginning kindergarten with varying levels of school readiness. Research showed that a greater parent involvement is a critical link in the child’s development of learning skills, including reading and writing. Early childhood professionals suggested that a program to provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues, and parent education to help parents understand their role in encouraging their child’s development from the beginning could help improve school readiness and parent involvement.
With funding from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The Danforth Foundation, Parents as Teachers began in 1981 in Missouri as a pilot project for first-time parents of newborns. Recognizing the program’s benefits and cost effectiveness, the Missouri legislature provided state funding in 1985 to implement Parents as Teachers programs in all Missouri school districts. Since 1985, Parents as Teachers has expanded to all 50 states and six other countries.
If you are interested in learning more about Van-Far’s Parents as Teachers program, call Lori Culwell at 573-594-2731. Or email her at