Parents learn about college in a leadership academy

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Twenty-six participants completed the 12-part program Dec. 7.

Alan Torres

The next Parent Leadership Academy, free series of classes led by parental network Coordinator Helen Torres, begins Jan. 20.

The purpose of the academy is to empower parents to have a leadership role in the education of their families and create a college-going culture, Torres said in an interview Nov. 1.

“President (Robert) Vela wanted a program for parents,” she said. “After observing different parental meetings from different schools, I had an idea.”

After starting with simple seminars and learning along the way, fall 2016 was the first official Parent Teacher Academy session, she said.

Classes will meet at this college, Region 20 Education Center at 1314 Hines, or at Picket Academy Center, 1931 E. Houston St.

 Courses include “How to Enroll Your Kids in a Mentoring Program” and “My Role in the Community as a Parent.”

The programs help parents understand the school system in this city and teach them to advocate for their children, Torres said.

“A lot of the parents in the inner city area never went to college and some did not even finish high school,” she said. “So when it comes to helping their children with their school, the parents simply have no idea what to do.”

The programs are also designed to help build better communication in families and learn to be a better member of the community.

“We help parents see the importance and the positive results of higher education,” she said. “Then parents take that to their homes and make it normal in their families. That helps young children grow up with the idea of one day going to college.”

The requirements for the academy are filling out a form and attending an orientation and 12 sessions.

The orientation lasts for three hours, but the regular classes last about an hour and a half.

Classes are given by Torres, Kimberly Baumgarden from Texas Education Agency Region 20 and Selena Garza and Lizet Casas from San Antonio Independent School District’s family engagement program. 

Upon completion of the course, parents will graduate in a ceremony and be awarded a certificate of completion.

Twenty-six of 34 participants completed the third annual class Dec. 7. Those who did not finish plan to enroll again, Torres said.

One graduate wants to spread the word.

 “ I learned how to be more understanding, to be a better parent and person,” said Valerie Ramirez said. “I know how to be more involved in my community and son’s school. I hope other parents enroll. I even hope my own sisters enroll.”

For more information, call Torres at 210-486-0947.


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