group of school kids and teacher in classroom

"At RISE Junior High Alternative Program, a school in Gilbert, we understand student growth doesn’t exclusively come from a textbook or lesson."

Various studies have shown students are more successful in school if they have a connection with at least one adult on their school campus. 

At RISE Junior High Alternative Program, a school in Gilbert, we understand student growth doesn’t exclusively come from a textbook or lesson. 

The RISE team of educators focuses on ensuring every student is motivated and supported to reach his or her full potential. Our team knows the real key to success is strong relationships between teachers and students - fostering both personal and academic growth. 

When teachers truly know their students-their victories, challenges, and needs- these educators are able to provide guidance to young scholars to help them reach their full potential. That’s why at RISE, teachers dedicate time to regularly meet with students one-on-one during personal mentoring sessions.

 A critical component of the Summit Learning model we use, this individual time with each student allows them to discuss their progress towards meeting their goals. When students struggle, they have a safe space to examine why they might be struggling and a mentor to help build a plan to overcome any obstacles.  

But relationship-building doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and we need parents and guardians to help foster connections between student and teacher. 

Educators are ready to offer support to students, but these young scholars must be receptive to receiving support. Parents and guardians play a vital role in reinforcing teachers are trusted partners, dedicated to helping their students succeed. 

Over the past decade as an educator, I have learned these are some of the most impactful ways for parents to help their children develop a strong student-teacher relationship: 

Tell them about your mentors. Teachers do more than teach – they listen, guide and mentor. To help your child recognize and value these extra roles teachers play, share with your child what you’ve learned from influential mentors in your own life.

 Together, analyze the lessons you have learned from your mentors and examine how each of these lessons is applicable to school, work and various aspects of your life. 

Use classroom tools to engage. At RISE, we use also the Summit Learning approach to drive student engagement. Parents and teachers can access information through Summit Learning to understand their students’ needs, see their progress, and support them through their challenges.

 Learn what tools your child’s teacher uses and set a regular reminder on your calendar to check in on how your student is doing. As a teacher myself, I appreciate when parents go the extra mile to show their desire to be involved in their child’s education. 

Communication is key. Checking in on your student’s work is not enough. Ask your child what he or she is working on and then follow up by asking how their teacher is supporting their learning. By asking about the teacher, your child will understand the value of their teacher’s role.  

Strong relationships with teachers help students feel supported in their academic growth, helping them achieve more. But teachers can’t be expected to do this work alone. 

Parents must help foster this connection by reminding their students teachers are caring allies committed to their success. By working together, parents and teachers can help their students soar to new heights and reach their full potential. 


- Justine Ingram is a mother and long-time educator currently serving as Alternative Junior High Program Coordinator at Gilbert Public Schools.