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Hart High program works with Spanish-speaking parents

Posted: March 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Gennie Hamm center, leads a group of parents in a communication skills exercise during the Padres Unidos program for Spanish-speaking parents of high school students at Hart High School on Tuesday. Gennie Hamm center, leads a group of parents in a communication skills exercise during the Padres Unidos program for Spanish-speaking parents of high school students at Hart High School on Tuesday.
Gennie Hamm center, leads a group of parents in a communication skills exercise during the Padres Unidos program for Spanish-speaking parents of high school students at Hart High School on Tuesday.
Parents sign in and pick up educational materials as they attend the new Padres Unidos program. Parents sign in and pick up educational materials as they attend the new Padres Unidos program.
Parents sign in and pick up educational materials as they attend the new Padres Unidos program.
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Hart High School parent Claudia Montano admits she didn’t always know how to stay connected to her daughter’s education.

But then Montano, a parent of a Hart High senior, joined the school’s Padres Unidos program and began attending frequent meetings conducted entirely in Spanish, during which school leaders communicated to her and fellow Spanish-speaking parents in Spanish about how to stay involved in their child’s academics.

“It’s the most direct way that the school can connect with parents,” Canyon Country resident Montano said through a Spanish translator.

Now she’s able to log onto her computer and keep up with her daughter’s grades and test scores and has taken an active role in her daughter’s education as she prepares for high school graduation.

Hart’s program has been in place for at least a decade and is designed for Spanish-speaking parents and parents of

English-language learners to stay in the loop about school academics and activities, community resources and how to prepare their children for life beyond high school.

Nearly 40 percent of Hart’s 2,100 students are Hispanic, according to state data.

“It’s to connect the Spanish-speaking community and families and give them an opportunity to connect to our school,” Hart High counselor and Padres Unidos co-facilitator Karla Arriaran-Rodriguez said. “We are meeting a need.”

The concept will soon take shape at Golden Valley High School as Padres Unidos organizers hope to kick start the program there next week for the parent community that has similar demographics to Hart’s.

Many of the parents who attend Padres Unidos meetings immigrated to the United States from Spanish-speaking countries and don’t understand how American schools operate, especially high school graduation requirements, Arriaran-Rodriguez said.

The informal meetings are designed to cut down on any intimidation that parents may feel coming to school.

“A program like this gives them an opportunity to connect, but also learn about our school system,” Arriaran-Rodriguez said.

Meetings are usually held every other month at Hart with many families opting to walk to the campus toting young kids and strollers.

One of the more popular topics is financial aid for college. The session gives parents a chance to understand the federal financial aid system and how their children can apply for grants and student loans, Arriaran-Rodriguez said.

Hart is the only school in the district to offer a financial aid night entirely in Spanish.

Padres Unidos has worked for Hart High parent Jose Gonzalez, who now stays up to date on his son’s academics using an
online system available to all William S. Hart Union High School District parents.

“They give you a very good idea on how we can help our children,” Gonzalez said.

661-287-5525

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