A volunteer pursuit turns into full-time occupation for education expert Charlene Margot
The third time Charlene Margot’s son took the SAT exam when he was a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School, he put his fist through a wall. It was a wake up call for Charlene. “There was a rising tide of student stress and not very good parent education for public schools,” she recalls. “I’ve been in education my whole life and know that parent education can change the course of a child’s life.”
So, as a volunteer, Charlene started the M-A Parent Education Series in 2005, spending as much as 20 to 30 hours a week recruiting experts on a wide variety of parenting topics to speak. Twelve years later, she’s getting paid for her efforts, has expanded the program throughout Sequoia Union High School district and Los Lomitas Schools, and is now looking at “taking it up a notch and making the umbrella bigger” in a program she’s calling The Parent Venture.
“I’ve had a vision of The Parent Venture for a decade, even as I’ve been building The Parent Education Series,” says the Menlo Park resident. “To inform this new venture, I returned to graduate school in 2014 and earned a new Master’s in Education, writing my thesis on “Does Parenting Make a Difference?”
“As I tell parents, the Parent Education Series started at M-A with 25 people in the library. Today, we’ve had over 40,000 attendees in the past seven years, and the program is still growing.”
Charlene’s goal from the beginning was a long-lasting, professional, and high-quality parent education program open to parents, students, teachers, and community members. And from the beginning she customized speakers and topics to individual schools.
“As Board Chair at Challenge Success, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with parents and administrators from across the nation about parent education programming,” she says. “These conversations confirm that I’ve developed a program that other schools can model and scale for their communities.
“With The Parent Venture, I want to reach more people. What they learn can benefit our kids.”
Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2017