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[Music and singing] [Music and singing] [Music and singing] [Ed Sardella] Hello I'm Ed Sardella, host of a new series on KRMA TV called Prime Time. Your opportunity to learn about the Denver Public Schools and become involved in the
activities of the school, home, and community which will help Denver school children to achieve educational excellence. In this first program, Dr. Joseph Brzeinski, superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, discusses what is the Prime Time project. Dr. Mary Ann Parthum, director of the project, explains how school, home, and community will be working together. We'll visit a classroom at Goldrick elementary school and go to a home where Prime Time activities are taking place. Then there's a prize trophy at Swansea school that's hugged loved and petted. These are the stories coming up this week on Prime Time. Dr. Joseph Brzeinski has been superintendent of the Denver public schools since 1977. He was born in Denver and received his education in the Denver schools. Dr. Brzeinski has two degrees from Denver University and his Ph.D. in school administration from Columbia University. He knows the Denver public schools well as a teacher, and before becoming superintendent, as an
administrator for research, planning, business, and administrative services. Dr. Joseph Brzeinski is the prime mover behind Prime Time. Channel 6 recently interviewed the superintendent about the Denver schools. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek, Interviewer for KRMA TV) Everyone talks about quality education as if the term was honestly and clearly understood. As the person ultimately responsible for quality education in Denver, what is your definition? (Speaking: Dr. Joseph Brzeinski) Well, I suppose quality education first of all would be acquiring the basic skills. It would mean transmitting the knowledge of the insights and the attitudes that are necessary for success in our society in our world. Developing the skills that are required to hold a job to be successful in our choice of occupation. Being able to cope with change because that seems to be one of the constants in our present world. A, ah, for a person to be truly educated and have quality education, we have to enable them to have their curiosity stimulated. Ah, we need to encourage excellence and I suppose we could sum up all of this by encouraging them,
how to think, how to meet problems, a, ah not what to think. (Speaking: Interviewer, Lin Mrachek) I know the DPS board, DPS adminstrative staff, and you have consistently encouraged parent and community involvement in the Denver public schools. Specifically, how can parents become involved with the schools to help their children to be more successful students. (Speaking: Dr Brzeinski) Well first of all the reason we've encouraged it is that, any good school system is dependent upon strong, demanding, critical parents. And that's the reason we've encouraged it. I think this is an excellent time for parents to get involved and it can start with the preschool kindergarden children, parents of first and second graders. There are so many things that parents can do to help their children. Um, they can arouse their curiosity, as they go down the street they can point out signs. Ah, look that letter starts, that sign starts with the same letter as your name. Or, do you see that number on the mileage, is that a one or a five? Ah, what
color is that light? These are for very early age children. There are so many things that parents can do. They can let the children see them reading. Ah, they can read to the children, and this is one of the finest ways for encouraging scholarship. And it can start at a very early age almost from the time that they can be held in their arms. Obviously, the parent ought to be a frequent visitor in the school, to find out what's going on with the child and with the child's teacher. Ah, they ought to participate in these parent teacher conferences, not just at report card time but at other times. They oughta to be involved in the school's activities on an informal basis it always shouldn't have to be a formal conference. Ah, one of the best things that a parent can do is to support the teacher. They can do this by encouraging the youngster to do well, by being supportive and understanding when they're having problems. Ah, they should encourage regular attendance. It's certainly no surprise that time and time again, when we analyze our test scores, we see that those pupils
with the best attendance, generally tend to do better in terms of achievement tests. And they can provide a learning atmosphere at home. Many of the kinds of things that I've talked about just a few moments ago. But they can also provide a place where the child can study uninterrupted by television or other distractions, and they can encourage this on a regular basis. There are so many learning experiences that the home can provide that really gives the early ah, childhood pupil a head start in school and it builds upon it, because time and time again we find that the interest, the encouragement, and the support of the home, makes a difference in what the children will do; the young men and women in school. Ah, they need to provide a regular time and space for homework. Again, there are so many public activities: The museums, the Art Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the children's museums, all kinds of community events. If they would encourage their children to talk with them and just spend some time with them. Ah, the
parents really are going to determine, in the final analysis, how well their boys and girls are going to do in school and in life. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) Superintendent Brzeinski, what is Prime Time? (Speaking: Dr. Brzeinski) Prime Time is the time that we want parents to take aunts and uncles, grandma and grandpa, or maybe the elderly neighbor away from the busy workday world and ah, spend some time with the boys and girls. Ah, in the schools we've tried to formalize it a bit by suggesting activities for parents and relatives of all age groups. Ah, originally we're really trying to reward reading achievement. We're trying to develop parental involvement in schools because we do think that's going to make a difference in how well the children will do. And we're trying to develop positive attitudes about learning. Through the Prime Time series on television and through some of the Prime Time publications, we're going to provide some helpful hints as to the kinds of things parents can do. They're going to encourage their children to be the top students.
(Speaking: Lin Mrachek) What do you expect Prime Time to achieve this school year? (Speaking: Dr. Brzeinski) Well I suppose, we really are endeavoring to return to the way education used to be, it used to be at the mother's knee. The home really was the prime source of education. Possibly, it's been become too formalized in our society. And once again, we want parents to become involved in their children's education. Ah, we want parents to be the first and hopefully among the best of the teachers of their children. Ah, we want parent, student, teacher attention to reading because of the young boys and girls who do well in reading ah, we know they're going to do well in their schoolwork. Ah, We're going to have a number of activities to promote interest, weekly activity cards. ah, we're going to try to get parents actively involved, partners in education, ah, and helping their children learn to read, learn to succeed in school. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) Is there a role for the business community in Prime Time? (Speaking: Dr. Brzeinski) We think so because they're going to be the ultimate beneficiaries if we're successful in educating the boys and girls. Ah, one of the first and probably one of
the easiest would be to provide release time for their employees to go visit their child's classroom. To talk to their children's teacher. And that we think it would not be very expensive it's happened in other cities and we think that the business community in Denver will support this kind of a program. We're going ?to have? asked them to do so. Ah, we would like to have them contribute time and service through their employees coming in, helping to educate the boys and girls and young men and women because we've got in our Denver community a microcosm of the total world. And they can provide those kinds of resources to the schools, and they have been doing it, and we hope they'll continue doing that. And finally, I think they can reinforce the need for quality public education, through these kinds of participatory activities. Specifically, a little later on, we may be asking some of the businesses to ah, provide some reward and some incentives for children of their employees who maybe will read a dozen or two books. It may be that they would be willing, within their company,
to provide reinforcement by providing a book for everyone, for every dozen that the pupils would read that they could start their own library. There are so many ways and I think many of them are the kinds of things we've been doing just coming in and working with us helping us to educate ah, the young men and women, the boys and girls. (Speaking: Ed Sardella) Next, KRMA TV talk with Dr. Mary Ann Parthum. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) As the project director of Prime Time, why was Prime Time designated as a goal of the public schools? (Speaking: Dr. Mary Ann Parthum) Prime time has been designated as a goal this year to include the community more directly in the learning process with students. And this means, parents, staff, faculty, community people, participating with children with a particular emphasis on reading activities. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) How was Prime Time developed? Who's responsible? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) Well, Prime Time came about as a result of discussion with the superintendent and different people on the staff. And it was determined that this would be a special
project this year, and we needed to find a name for the concept of community involvement with a reading emphasis. And there's evidence to suggest that when people participate in the learning process with students, reading to them or doing activities with them, that their achievement increases. And so Prime Time seemed like a natural name for the whole project. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) How is it managed? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) Ah, Helene Anderson is the manager of the office and Velma Brooke is the secretary. And they manage people as we call them in on an as needed basis, whether that be inviting reading specialists or teachers in to, and sometimes also parents, who contribute to the reactions of the Prime Time cards and the activities that we have to do. We're trying not to, we're trying to utilize more fully all the resources of the district and the community and so these two people are very active. Sometimes it takes a group of temporary people to help package the Prime Time cards we ?turn? out to the elementary
schools or other kinds of things that are distributed in the district or collected from people in the district. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) What are the activities that will take place with Prime Time? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) The active cards are in an elementary school project, par..part of the project. Each week we send activity cards through the elementary schools to the homes. Each teacher plans some kind of explanatory activity with the students to, um, work an activity with their parents or another adult in their home. And then there's a little sign off sheet that says, yes, we did this Prime Time activity, and may be signed by parent or someone who helped the child. (Speaking: Ed Sardella) Activity cards first went home to parents in September. The activity card for next week is based on the theme, every parent is a teacher. Edna Hines, teacher at Goldrick elementary school, provides an in-depth look at how these cards are presented in the classroom. (Speaking: Edna Hines) All eyes looking this way. Okay boys and girls, we have a Prime Time parent card. Last week it was pink, this week is yellow. And our ?thoughts for?
this week is, time ?for? your child is Prime Time and the theme is, every parent is a teacher. Now when we take this home, we have a place here for you to fill your name in as a student and a helper, a sister or brother, older sister or brother, or mothers, may be helpers. And then they would sign down here what their relationship is to you. If it's a sister, she put sister; if a brother, she put brother; and mother if it's your mother. All right, on the other side of the card, we have a note to the parents which states, here are some ways you can motivate your child to want to learn to read and read to learn. One of the ways is reading aloud as well as reading with your children. Encouraging the library use, building a home library, buying and trading books, organizing a community book fair,
another way is subscribing to children's magazines, and giving books for gifts, birthdays, Christmas, those kinds of gifts. If you get a book, you could build your library soon. Now you understand about the... (Speaking: students) yeah, yeah (Speaking: Edna Hines) Okay, now I'll just pass them out to [students chattering] take home with you. Um, When you get home you can tell your parents how they're supposed to help you become readers, [students chattering] better readers. We're reading different materials, different from what you read in the class- [student chattering] room. If you're using the newspaper, if you're going to buy magazines, we want to know. [student chattering] It's time to go home. It's time to go home. [student chattering] [Teacher and student chitchat] [Music]
[Music] [children talking] (Speaking: Ed Sardella) Each week activity cards will be taken home. Parents are asked to work with their children on these projects. [Music] Next, Prime Time went to the home of Jennifer for a visit with her parents Greg and Marilyn DePretto. [Music] (Speaking: Greg DePretto) Oh it's, I think it's amazing that the schools are finally trying to get the parents involved. And when she did bring this home today, I was looking over it, and there, you know, reading a short story to your child. And that's gonna maybe bring you and your child closer together.
(Speaking: Marilyn DePretto) Reading to Jenny is a special time for us too. She sits close to me [young child making noises] and we're quiet, um, [cough] it's just a nice time and it's more, there's a lot more to it than just reading to her. (Speaking: Unidentified Interviewer] If you were talking with other parents who would ask you um, if you had any suggestions as what they could do to help their kids learn to read, [child speaking] what would you suggest to them? (Speaking: Marilyn DePretto) Reading to them [child singing] is a good start, ha, ha [child talking] By reading yourself setting an example, they learn quicker from examples than anything else. I've expressed to Jenny several times, that reading makes her opportunities limitless. It just, it makes things possible that way because she can, [child talking] it just opens all the doors as far as I'm concerned. (Speaking: Greg DePretto) Jenny, when she reads a book, she really has a fantasy about it. She goes off into her little land and she really gets into a book, whether she knows what story's about or not, she creates her own story.
So we really want her to read and we've tried to ah, get her the books she wants to read so. I just hope that the schools keep up this Prime Time. Cuz what I've seen from it so far I think it's going to be really good for the parents and also the kids. I just hope the Denver Public Schools keep it up. I really do. (Speaking: Marilyn DePretto) Reading is important. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) In addition to activity cards, what else do you have planned? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) Well we have lots of exciting things and, and that's not to say that there aren't already lots of volunteer cooperative community activities going on in the district. We're not building a new program, we're just trying to say to everybody let's put an emphasis on reading this year. Ah, we're planning um, to have each school reflect reading emphasis in their school community activities and the creativity sort of comes from the PTSA and from the principal and groups of teachers who say, how can we put an emphasis on Prime Time for learning with an emphasis on reading. So we're anxious to see what schools come up
with on their own. In addition, we're planning to produce for each secondary student a calendar that contains reading ideas, study habits, ah study habits hints, test taking ah, tips and that sort of thing so that, that can be a secondary emphasis that we'll begin in January. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) Are there Prime Time billboards around town? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) There are billboards in several locations that show pictures of Denver students and it says give us Prime Time, Denver Public Schools. That same picture also has been included in the best cards in is running around town with 500 busses. Um, the um, Rocky Mountain, oh ?temporarial?, channel nine is sponsoring a watch write contest to give secondary students and elementary students an opportunity to watch, um, Prime Time TV shows and react to that with writing activities. The newspaper in the classroom is being sponsored by both the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News we're pleased
about that. We have a project going to ah, provide fourth, fifth, and sixth graders with an opportunity to read and study about river otters and endangered species. Ah, the Denver Public Library is in cooperating with us to a great degree in promoting um, displays and providing book marks that say, give us Prime Time. And we're making a special appeal to businesses to um, release their employees for the time it would take for them to go and visit their child's school. So those are some of the things that are underway with ah, the brief time that we've really been underway letting people know what, what we're about. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) How long will the project last? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) We have activities planned um, during this whole school year. And we'll begin to look at how Prime Time is working and what the plans might be for next year ah, after the first of the year. (Speaking: Lin Mrachek) How will the success of Prime Time be measured? (Speaking: Dr. Parthum) Well I need to tell you a story, I was in a principals meeting for elementary principals last week
and one of the principals said he was anxious not only to see how the Prime Time cards worked in his elementary school but he had a second grader in his own home. And so he said, my second grader brought home a Prime Time activity card and it was something we did together and it was good for both of us. We hope that we can somehow tap into the numbers and kinds of activities and if there are people who are doing things that we should know about that are related to reading um, that will help us begin to develop the best way to evaluate it. We hope that we can put all those things together in a package to really see how much impact the focus on reading and Prime Time for learning has had um, in the community. (Speaking: Ed Sardella) Keeping children in school and not playing hooky has been an ongoing concern of parents and teachers. There are many good reasons why school attendance is necessary. Next Wednesday October 7th is a special day. In past years students were counted over a monthly period. But now, a new Colorado state law makes the one day count on October 7th very
important. Attendance on that day determines the amount of state aid a school district will receive. Each student counted means about twenty-seven hundred dollars in state aid for the Denver schools. So make sure your child attends school on Wednesday October 7th. Regular school attendance and academic achievement are interrelated. A contest designed to increase interest in regular school attendance has been successfully carried out the past two years and is again underway at Swansea school at 41st and Columbine. Social worker, Delories Graves, awards a weekly traveling trophy to the class with the best attendance. The trophy is a three foot tall stuffed Saint Bernard dog named No Miss. (Speaking: Dolories Graves) Boys and girls we have started our no miss program ah, for this year. And you have won again this year. Okay. We will have Frank and Jack to bring No Miss over to our
table and we will congratulate you. [children whispering] Boys and girls in the back, would you come up and congratulate the class for winning No Miss this week. All the boys and girls in this classroom came to school every day this week and they have won No Miss. And we're going to sing a little congratulation song to you. Okay. [Dolories Graves and classroom children singing] (Speaking: Dolories Graves) Can we give them a hand? Give yourself a hand. [clapping] Very good, you're very good. I started here as the school social worker ah, Swansea school ah, approximately
three years ago. And it came to my attention ah, immediately that we had an attendance problem here. And it could not be resolved on an individual basis with home visits and those kinds of things. And ah, the staff and I sit down and ah, toss the ah, question around attendance around and decided that it would have to be, the problem would have to be resolved as a total school involvement, meaning the faculty, the community, parents, and children. And we came up with the idea of ah, the No Miss program; ah, a the attendance um, based on ah, getting rewards, as a result of attending the school on a regular basis. We give the ah, the immediate rewards by having the dog go to the classroom on a weekly basis. And ah, at the end of the year we count up the number of times that the dog has gone to a
classroom, or all the classrooms, and see who has had the dog the highest number of times. And again, Mrs. Gordon's class came out with that ah, came up, ah, came out that scored the highest. The parents are involved, the children are involved, and also the community is involved with this program. Um, we also ah, felt too that ah, if we started early, during the earliest stages of development, ah, helping children to develop a positive attitude towards school this would continue throughout their academic career. Our staff here at Swansea, is a very caring staff and ah, encourages the children and the parents to come into our school any time and realize the importance of children understanding their role as students. Taking on the responsibilities of coming to school, and
understanding and realizing if they are in school that they can reach their highest academic potentials. And also develop those social skills that are so necessary in our changing world. (Speaking: Robert Hirsch, Principal) We thought ah, without having any specific statistics to go on, we didn't make any careful research or survey. We thought that our ah, attendance could be improved. Ah, it wasn't any um, drastic sort of thing but we know that if children are in school there going to learn and if they're not in school their chances of learning are a lot less. So we felt that um, this is not only to bring children in school but it's also to raise the academic achievement in the school. And we thought that one of the ways to do this was to improve ah, attendance. And we found ah, the children were not attending. There were some children very lax about attending because um, either there's not the motivation within
themselves, there's not the motivation sometimes in the home to attend school. And, so we needed some kind of ah, booster to keep it going and this No Miss is a result of that. It has been a successful program. Ah, we again do not have hard statistic data to show you about attendance but we feel that um, the attendance is improving. We also feel that this is a way to do it without a lot of pressure on children. Ah, They have a reason, they like No Miss, they like the idea. There's a little peer pressure because each week the ah, the class that wins of course, you know that's, that's a star in the crown of the class. So there's a little peer pressure there. But and yet it's not a kind of thing that one on one pressure type of thing going so we think it's a good learning experience for children. And then you know everybody just loves No Miss. In fact ah, one of the problems with it, if you've noticed, it's white.
And ah, it has to be cleaned periodically because of the number of pettings and hugs and so on it gets. (Speaking: Ed Sardella) Join Prime Time next week when we'll visit a kindergarten classroom where reading skills begin. School and city librarians will recommend books that young students from preschool through Grade 6 will enjoy reading. Next week give your child some of your prime time. [Music] [Music] [Music and singing].
Prime Time
DPS Prime Time Project
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Rocky Mountain PBS (Denver, Colorado)
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Chicago: “Prime Time; DPS Prime Time Project,” 1981-10-01, Rocky Mountain PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “Prime Time; DPS Prime Time Project.” 1981-10-01. Rocky Mountain PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Prime Time; DPS Prime Time Project. Boston, MA: Rocky Mountain PBS, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from