Parents Open School


Run by parents at Dewey, but open to friends at other schools as well.


After 12 straight weeks of Parents Open School, and 59 different topics(!), we have suspended Parents Open School for now.

Here’s our archived schedule of sessions from March to June 2020.

Make sure you’re signed up for the Parents Open School listserv here for updates and info on future sessions!

Thank you so much to all the parents and community members who supported this experiment in community education during a pandemic!

We’re taking some time to reflect on what we learned and any next steps. If you want to share any reflections (what you liked, what you didn’t, thoughts for the future, requests, etc), please drop us a line:



This site was started by a group of parents at Dewey School in Evanston, IL to help educate, entertain, and build community among our kids during the Coronavirus school break. Parents and community members volunteered to lead sessions by video at the same time every day (3:30pm), Monday through Friday, for 12 weeks.

***Kids were invited to attend regardless of whether their parents are leading a session! Open to all Dewey families -- and friends from other schools welcome as well. ***


What is this? Parents Open School is an effort to meet the challenge of entertaining and maybe even educating our kids during the long Coronavirus break. This is NOT sanctioned or sponsored by the district or school administrators (they have enough to do already!). This is a volunteer project by a group of Dewey parents. Parents and other leaders in the Dewey community will volunteer to lead daily ~30 minute sessions by video in order to entertain and educate groups of Dewey kids. We hold these sessions at 3:30pm every weekday, Monday through Friday.

Do I need to do anything for my kid to participate? THIS ONLY WORKS IF ENOUGH PARENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE WILLING TO LEAD A SESSION, so we need your help! You don't have to be an expert (although it's great if you are). You just need to be willing to teach, share, train, tell, or lead a session on something you know. And if you want to teach or share something WITH someone else (like your kid, or your spouse, etc) -- that's ok too! That said, all kids are welcome, whether or not their parent is involved in leading a session.

I’m a presenter. What should I expect during my session?

  • You should plan for your session to last 30 minutes. (Longer is ok if you really have a great plan for how to keep engaged! But plan for 30.)

  • Please plan to arrive at 3:20 pm so you can test your video and audio and make sure you’re there as kids arrive. Someone will welcome everyone and introduce you, and then it’s your show.

  • You'll speak into the video camera on your computer or phone.

  • This is open to any student (regardless of whether their parent is leading something). We typically get about 20-50 kids. We seem to have a lot of 3rd graders (probably because the parents who first kicked this off were 3rd grade parents) but there are kids from all grades there.

  • The kids will default to being on mute, to avoid background noise, but you can unmute them if you want to. They'll also be able to type questions into a chat box, so some interactivity is possible if you want to encourage that. They will also be able to see each other.

  • Your session doesn't have to be anything fancy. Think of it more like a friendly virtual summer camp than like a high-pressure university class.

  • Click here to access more tips specifically for speakers / presenters.

Will these be recorded? Sorry, no. We don't want to have the link to a recording of a bunch of Dewey kids close-up faces floating around on the internet -- it's not a grainy far-off video of a musical performance or talent show; it's more intimate; and we won't be able to get parents' permission.

Can kids from other schools come? This is being led by Dewey families -- and part of the fun is being able to see other kids you already know, and it’s about helping preserve the sense of connection and community for our school. But kids from other schools are welcome to join! And we’ve had friends from other schools ask, which is great.

Code of Conduct for kids:

  • Follow the Dewey Values

  • Be kind & courteous: No name-calling or swearing by any kid (if they’re off mute), or lewd gestures

  • Be respectful: Parents are doing this to help the whole community - be kind, attentive, and respectful!

  • It’s ok to have your video on or off, but on is best so people can SEE each other!

  • No shirt, no service (that is, GET DRESSED before class)

Questions or suggestions? Email

If you’re a parent who could lead a session or help volunteer in another role, fill out this survey (We welcome parents & other community members):

How we’re handling communications to parents around the school:

  • Email via Classroom Communicators on Monday every week with the schedule for the week and any other important communications

  • Periodic updates to Ms Sokolowski on how it’s going

Volunteer roles to keep this going:

  • Overall program coordinator

  • Session scheduler - look at the spreadsheet of incoming volunteers, reply to each of them, and ID when they can lead

  • Parent prepper - for anyone scheduled, reach out to them by email/text and make sure they have what they need to lead their session. Text them on the day of their session to re-confirm they have the zoom link. Text one hour ahead to make sure they’re still ready to lead. Thank them afterwards.

  • Host - welcome everyone at the top of the call, mute kids if they unmute themselves and are disruptive, monitor the chat box and intervene if people are violating community norms

  • Communicator - sending out updates via Classroom Communicators, and to Ms Sokolowski

Thank you to 3rd grader Marit Skwish & her Dad Andrew Skwish for our lovely Open School logo!

For people from other schools looking for information on how we set this up: Here’s a link to the emails we circulated to get this off the ground.

And here’s the archived schedule of past sessions.

And here’s what it typically looks like:

Screenshot of a Zoom session