Families at Clemente Martinez Elementary School filled the school on January 23 for a fun-filled Family Literacy Night event. Literacy Advance of Houston organized the event, bringing volunteers from Cameron to help with literacy related activities for the kids and presentations for the parents. Almost 50 parents attended the presentations, held in Spanish and English with a Swahili translator, which provided information about helping children develop literacy skills from an early age. Just under 70 children attended to read stories with volunteers and do crafts relating to the stories, and 165 books were given out to the kids who each got to go home with two of their choosing (with parents picking out a few for their infants too).
Literacy Advance has been working with Avenue CDC and La Raza United to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for the parents since September 2012. La Raza has provided child care for the parents with children who aren’t in school yet, which is the most common barrier for parents to take ESL classes, allowing parents who otherwise would not be able to come to class to attend. Avenue CDC has supported the partnership with a grant that has made it possible for Literacy Advance to serve 36 learners. The school has already noticed an increase in parent involvement among the learners in the class. Some of them even volunteer after they drop their kids off and before class starts! Thanks to the dedication of the Literacy Advance volunteer tutors, the welcoming and supportive Clemente staff, and the childcare provided by La Raza, the classes at Clemente have some of the best attendance rates of any Literacy Advance partner program.
Clemente has many refugee families, and one of the aims of the ESL classes was to reach these parents to help them increase their English literacy skills, a crucial tool to become more involved in their children’s education. Four of these parents have taken the class so far (and three have taken the class in both fall and spring semester), and there are three more refugee students on the waitlist (they were not able to register on time). These parents can be the hardest to reach, so it is significant that four are involved and more are becoming interested in the classes.
The ESL program has been a great success, and this four-pronged partnership (with Clemente, Literacy Advance, La Raza and Avenue CDC) is a perfect example of how agencies can work together to serve families in need.
Photos from Literacy Night are online here