VC reaches out to parents of high school students in Gonzales

Title V Pre-College Advisor Vicente Ortiz

Victoria College is reaching out to help parents of high school students in Gonzales. Two new programs funded by VC’s Title V grant are aimed at Gonzales High Schools’ Spanish-speaking parents.

Starting late last year, VC began hosting a monthly “Café con Leche” meeting for parents where information about high school and college programs is delivered in Spanish. VC’s Pre-College Programs also provides Spanish-language literature and refreshments.

The first of these hour-long evening meetings was held inside VC’s CARS Center on campus at GHS. In order to accommodate the large number of participants, meetings have since been moved to the cafeteria. Meetings usually start at 7 p.m. and finish up by 8:30 p.m.

“Our goal is to reach parents who may not be getting information on scholarships, dual credit classes and their child’s access to college because they’re getting information materials that are presented in English,” said VC’s Title V Pre-College Advisor Vicente Ortiz. “And these meetings are casual, so parents are comfortable asking questions and getting the information their students will need to finish high school successfully and then go on to college.”

According to Ortiz, the meetings give him an opportunity to clear up misconceptions about dual credit classes and going to college. But most importantly, presenting information in person and in an informal setting allows him to make connections with parents.

“People are just more comfortable asking questions when they feel a personal connection with the person they know has the answers and can provide assistance,” said Ortiz.

After spring break, Ortiz mentioned inviting the Gonzales Independent School District’s superintendent along with Gonzales High School’s principal and VC staff to this month’s “Café con Leche” meeting. This will give participants a chance to ask questions and network with high school and college administrators.

As a result of the “Café con Leche” meetings with parents, VC also began providing conversational English classes for parents at the high school with Title V funding.

The free classes are held once a week over 12 weeks from 6 – 8:50 p.m. The instructor is a teacher from Gonzales High School and the high school allows use of a classroom.

According to Ortiz, parents who attended the first “Café con Leche” were polled to determine their goals for the meetings. Their top priority was to be able to communicate with teachers so they can find out how their children are doing in school. In addition to improved communications, Ortiz said participants wanted to improve their English-speaking to foster better communication at work and be better able to access health care.

“We have about 15 parents in the conversational English class right now and, for this class, the focus is on speaking and understanding English,” said Ortiz. “We’re hoping to be able to add a more advanced English class in the future that will help with reading and writing skills.”

“VC understands the importance of ‘bridging the gaps’ and helping parents to communicate with their children’s teachers and school administrators,” said Kim Smith, director of the Title V program. “Through grants such as Title V, VC is able to provide important community outreach programs such as ‘Café con Leche’ and conversational English. Programs that will not only help parents understand how important an education is for their children, but allow them to participate as well.”

For more information about Café con Leche meetings and VC’s conversational English class for high school parents at Gonzales High School, please contact Vicente Ortiz in the Victoria College CARS Center at 830-672-6251 or vicente.ortiz@victoriacollege.edu.

The Title V Program is federally funded through the Department of Education ($2,720,931).

Published: Friday, 09 March 2012
 

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