Junior high student and parent have fun at a school event.

Parents can increase their children’s academic success through school and community involvement. Parent University at Mesa Public Schools offers the best of both, empowering families, employees and community members to actively engage in their child's learning journey. 

Whether seeking information on child development or college preparation, Parent University provides an opportunity for people to sharpen their parenting skills. In 1987, James K. Zaharis, former superintendent, founded Parent University with federal Title I funding to support parent involvement activities, fostering partnerships between families, the community, and local schools. Parent University equips parents with valuable resources, tools, and knowledge to bolster their children's academic, social, and emotional development. 

Jackie Thatcher, family and community engagement supervisor, shares that Parent University continues to grow and evolve with parents’ changing needs. Experts in the field teach a wide range of classes. Online and in-person offerings range from academic and technology-driven classes, such as reading, and online safety, to social, emotional, and behavioral support and even yoga. Most classes are offered free of charge.

“Our parents value the flexibility and convenience of our online courses, as they can easily tune in to the instructor and access information even while engaged in tasks like preparing dinner or other activities,” Thatcher says. “We are excited to offer some morning classes to the schedule to better meet parents' needs.”

Alicia Berzins, retired Mesa Public Schools principal transitioned into a certified health and life coach, beginning her journey as an instructor for Parent University in 2018. Her eight-week “Stress, Anxiety and Overwhelm” course is extremely popular.  

“Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in my opinion. The job is very demanding,” Berzins shares. “Students are coming to school with more challenges than we ever saw 20 years ago.”

Berzins saw the need for a class that could support everyone with the same kind of support and learning.

“If we can teach some of the needed skills for stress reduction to the adults, then hopefully the children in their circle of influence can benefit by watching adults regulate their nervous systems and emotions better.” 

For more information, visit communityed.mpsaz.org/o/commed/page/parentu.