Family Engagement is Key to a Child’s Success

Robert Bardwell
Director of School Counseling, Monson High School

On November 29, 2016, I was thrilled to play a role in launching the SeedMA program for every kindergartener enrolled in the Monson Public School System.

SeedMA is such a powerful program because it provides every kindergartener with a 529 college savings account with a free $50 deposit. That may not sound like a lot, but that seed deposit alone is getting children and families excited about continued savings and motivated about pursuing higher education options.

Family engagement is an important key to the success of the SeedMA program in our community. As Director of School Counseling, I work with parents every day, guiding them through important phases in their child’s educational journey. Many of the choices families face are not easy, and planning for the future can feel overwhelming when juggling other responsibilities at home.

I’m especially excited about SeedMA because I know the challenges our families deal with, and this program makes that step towards planning for the future that much easier. We have joined Treasurer Goldberg and MEFA to help families every step of the way on the road to educational success. Since the launch of SeedMA in our community, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Monson kindergarten families about what the program means to them.

Several families commented about how critical starting early was for their college plans and this program provided them the impetus to do so. Some were even disappointed that we didn’t start this earlier for their older children. Others appreciated our focus on both financial literacy and providing the opportunity for families to learn about how to best engage in reading literacy with their kindergartener.

Additionally, the United Way heard about our Snuggles to Savings program, which incorporates our SeedMA participation, and donated 75 stuffed animals to Monson Savings Bank, who in turn distributed one to each participating kindergarten student on December 15, 2016. Steve Lowell, President of Monson Savings Bank, was part of the presentations. He stated, “I was impressed that when I asked each of the classes what they were saving for the majority of them replied college. However, my favorite answer was the little boy who said “anything that we really want.”

What is clear is that Monson families are driving the success of the SeedMA program. By taking this step and planting the seed of investing in their children’s education both now and in the future, they are making it clear to our children that this community has high expectations for their success.

Here in Monson, we know that family engagement is the best way to ensure that every child reaches their educational potential. Our community is lucky to have joined the SeedMA program, and we look forward to getting every Monson kindergartener on the path to a future that sees their highest educational aspirations fulfilled.