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Parent group grows understanding within differences

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.
Parent group grows understanding within differences

Once a month a group of Edina High School (EHS) parents come together to learn more about each other. On the surface, they are a diverse group of cultures, religions and beliefs, but the parents have quickly discovered they have more in common than not.

Parent Mosaic was created last fall as an offshoot of the group started by students in May 2017. Some parents had become concerned about rising tensions in the student body. Assistant Principal Mike Pretasky began leading parent tours of the school to show that EHS was a safe environment. During the tours, Pretasky noticed that parents who seldom interacted with one another, started making conversation. He invited several parents whom he knew represented diverse cultures and political beliefs, to come together to continue their conversations. It became the seed for the Parent Mosaic group.

Now, parents come together monthly, break into small groups and have conversations based on an agenda formed by Pretasky. Discussions during the meeting have centered on holiday memories, stories about cooking and growing up, and questions about parenting. The only requirement is to agree to abide by meeting norms, which are a set of expectations that ensures a respectful conversation at every meeting. The norms include respecting each other’s truth and understanding that parents are not there to represent or share political beliefs.

The meetings provide an opportunity for parents to form new friendships. “As parents, we tend to socialize with parents who are like us, but through this group I get to socialize with other parents who aren’t like me,” said Sayali Amarapurkar, parent of two EHS students.  

Parent Mosaic goes beyond group discussions. Last year, parents also volunteered with each other and handed out snacks to students in the commons during finals. The group also serves to support the efforts of the student led Mosaic.

“My daughter is in the student group, which led the Unity Walk last May and we’ve had other Mosaic kids come and go to the parent meetings,” said Angella McGarvey, parent of four students at EPS. Many parents who attend the meetings ask if there is a student group, which leads them to encourage their kids to join Mosaic. “I came to Parent Mosaic because I saw the need and it reaffirmed what I saw in the student population,” said Eleni Glerum, parent of two students at EHS. “I’m amazed to see the students leading the way.”

Monthly attendance is not required to be part of the Parent Mosaic group, but parents would like to see the group grow. “We feel more parents need to join us,” said Amarapurkar. “I am from India and have been living in Edina for nine years. Over the years, Edina has become more diverse. There’s change going on and anytime there’s change there’s a lot of learning.”

Parent Mosaic seeks to eliminate barriers and preconceptions that would otherwise prevent individuals from getting to know one another. Spending time together is making a difference. “It’s really hard to clash up close,” said Pretasky. “When you’re standing face to face with somebody a lot of walls come down.”

(The next Parent Mosaic meeting will be Monday, Feb. 11. Any interested EPS parent is invited to attend. Email Assistant Principal Mike Pretasky if you have questions or would like more information.)