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Teacher home visits help connect school and families at Lincoln Park Middle School

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DULUTH, MN -

Teachers at Lincoln Park Middle School are going beyond the classroom to connect with families. 

A new program is helping break down barriers between the school and families by having teachers spend time at their students' homes.

The teacher home visit program started about 20 years ago in California; but for Lincoln Park Middle School, it's a brand new concept that's gaining traction in the community.  

When the Mahon family got a call from Lincoln Park Middle School to have two of their son's teachers visit their home, they were a little apprehensive. 

"It's kind of nervous to have people in your home that your child sees every day; and oh, they want to come see your home. It's a little different," said Dawn Mahon. 

This was the Mahon's first teacher home visit for their seventh grade son Jaydon. They say it was a good experience. 

"I thought it was neat, and we had more time and we weren't so rushed with the process," said Dawn.  

"Share in a general goal of what his goals are and what our goals are versus just one subject at a time," added Jaydon's Stepfather, Jay Mahon. 

The program is helping break down not only social barriers, but physical ones. 

According to statistics from Minnesota Compass, about 25 percent of families in Lincoln Park don't have their own car. 

"It's about a 3/4 mile long driveway, city buses don't come up here.  We had to start looking at creative ways to get parents up here," said John Nachtsheim, a Social Worker for Lincoln Park Middle School. He also helped start the teacher home visit program at the school. 

The program started as a pilot project in the spring of 2016. 

Now, more than 40 teachers at Lincoln Park Middle School are part of the program. 

Visiting with the Mahon's was Jaydon's Language Art teacher, Angela Pioro's, third home visit. 

"We want parents to know that this is not a conference, it's not talking about grades, it's not telling their kids behavior at school good or bad. We truly just want to get to know them on a different level," said Pioro.  

Jaydon says he's also on board with his teachers talking to his parents. 

"They (his parents) know I'm getting help and that there are teachers that care."

Nachtsheim says the program is not singling out any students or families for the visits, and they hope every teacher and families at the school get to experience the program. 

Program leaders hope to expand the program to other schools in the district, starting with Denfeld High School. 

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