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Jefferson students share pastries with their parents
Program is designed to connect home with school
Kristi Geis helps her son, Dylan Paulus, at the Muffins With Mom event Friday at Jefferson Elementary School. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

JEFFERSON — Most kids would rather sleep in an extra half-hour than get to school before 7:30 a.m., but not Dylan Paulus.

He was more than happy to be sitting in the Jefferson Elementary School cafeteria at 7 a.m. Friday. The reason for his early arrival? Muffins with Mom.

"I like it because you get to eat muffins with your mom, and sometimes your little sister," said Dylan, a second-grader, who was enjoying the festivities with his mom, Kristi Geis, and little sister Kiersten Geis, a kindergartner.

Muffins with Moms is a program that has been a JES tradition for at least the past decade.

"The goal of Muffins with Mom is to help build a sense of community," Principal Diane Oliver said. "The connection between home and school is vital to the success of a child."

The mom’s breakfast is a counterpart to the school’s "Donuts with Dad."

"We started Donuts with Dads because we wanted to engage the dads," Oliver said.

"We have good attendance at parent-teacher conferences, but we noticed that we were seeing more mom attendance than dad attendance. So we wanted to do something special to bring in more fathers.

"But we didn’t want to leave out the moms, so we created special days for them both."

Separate days are set aside for each grade level and for each parent. Participation for the events continues to grow every year.

Oliver says it usually draws several hundred parents, about 50 percent participation for the school with around 700 students. The event is organized by the JES Parent Teacher Organization.

For Kristi Geis, Muffins with Mom day is something too look forward to.

"We came last year," said Geis. "It’s just a fun thing to do with the kids."

The parent breakfast days are a part of a larger effort to bridge the gap between families and schools, Oliver says.

"We also have a curriculum night for each grade level," Oliver said. "That gives parents a snapshot of their child’s day at school. In the case of kindergarten curriculum nights, we do the morning announcements, introduce the specials teachers and the administrators.

"Curriculum nights are well attended by entire family units. We encourage that as much as possible. We do different activities throughout the year, but in August we spend a lot of time really building that sense of community. That’s our focus."

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