Durant Turri Mott’s Family Night continues to be an asset to students and parents

FLINT, Michigan — Despite COVID-19 restrictions and drizzling rain, Durant Turri-Mott Elementary's (DTM) annual Family Night was a success. On Wednesday, April 20, many students and parents pulled up to the drive-thru event to receive their STEM packets that were provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Museum. 

Linda Hopkins (Family Engagement Facilitator), Debra Rinoldo-Hopkins (teacher), and several volunteer parents distributed learning packets and lunches for the after-school program now in its tenth year.  

Pre-pandemic, DTM’s Family Night attracted over 300 guests who enjoyed completing the STEM learning modules and participating in other activities such as raffles. Even as the school continues to adapt to COVID guidelines, the program remains popular. Soon after doors opened, parents could be seen lining up for what Rinoldo describes as “make it, take it bags.”

Rinoldo, a long-time educator in Flint, detailed Sloan’s project which included several science-based assignments. The weekly projects are suitable for students in grades K-6 and their parents, explained Hopkins as students raced down the hallway to receive their packets.  

“We work with families to bring those (afterschool STEM) skills into the classroom,” said Rinoldo, who hopes that Sloan will offer more programs once its remodeling is complete. “One thing we’d like to have at Sloan is a Family Community School Night.”

Rinoldo also recalled how other organizations such as Cranbrook Educational Community have helped in the past. “I remember when Cranbrook would host these amazing STEM events and invite our students down there [Bloomfield Hills, MI] to participate.” 

Educators and volunteers show up to pass out STEM learning packets which feature several science-based assignments.

Founded in 1904, Cranbrook is one of the world’s leading centers of education, science, and art that continues to foster an ability to create something new and original and play a significant role in building a scientifically literate public.

“We welcome organizations that invest in these children,” stated Rinoldo, on all the institutions that contribute to DTM’s continued STEM studies programs. 

Both teachers and parents believe the Family Night activities improve DTM students' overall school performance. 

“We see kids thriving. It [STEM] piques their interest, and once we pique their interests then we improve their grades,” explains Rinoldo. Many DTM students continue STEM learning through related summer camps and in classes offered higher levels of education. 

Terry Love, an education specialist and DTM parent, applauds the school’s Family Night projects because of her fifth grader’s heightened curiosity about science and technology subjects. When asked if she could see an improvement in her student’s grades, Love responded, “Definitely! If it wasn’t for these types of programs here, my child would not be attending DTM.” 

“The wrap-around school support is awesome!" added Love. “They really care and all of the teachers are excellent! I just can't say enough good things about DTM.” 

“It's here in Flint and it's free, and I’m hoping that Flint Schools continue such programs.”

The next DTM – Family Night is scheduled for May 22 and is planned to be an in-person event. For more information, contact Linda Hopkins at 810-750-594 or Jason S. Rogers at 810-767-6372. 

Read more articles by Omoro Collins.