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Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 1 comment

Alpha Parent Center Opens To Help Alpha Public School Parents Learn English and Tech Skills While Building a Community Of Families

By Martha Sessums, President, ACE

“Viva las familias,” said Blanca Alvarado, namesake of Alpha Public School’s Blanca Alvarado Middle School. “Parents are part and parcel in the development of their children’s good education and long term success.”

Blanca Alvarado cuts the opening ribbon at the Alpha Parent Center.  Karen Martinez (left), Parent Center Manager, and Sam Riccardo (right), San Jose Mayor, assist her.

Blanca Alvarado cuts the opening ribbon at the Alpha Parent Center. Karen Martinez (left), Parent Center Manager, and Sam Riccardo (right), San Jose Mayor, assist her.

With great fanfare on April 28, a sunny morning in San Jose, Alvarado cut the yellow ribbon in the opening ceremony for the newest ACE Learning Center. Like our other Learning Centers, it offers English language lessons and computer skills, but this one has a different student body. It serves the parents of the students attending the Alpha Public Schools.

John Glover, founder of Alpha Public Schools, claimed that the Alpha Parent Center makes the schools “stronger, bigger and better.” It gives a place for Second Harvest Food Bank to supply food for low-income families at the school, provides accessible education for Latino and Vietnamese parents, while offering a place to learn civic engagement through People Acting in Community Together (PACT) and sharing these skills with each other.

“Civic engagement is key,” said Alvarado. “It’s important Alpha families learn their potential as citizens of this country, including the power of motivation, inspiration and voting.”

All the other speakers at the grand opening echoed this attitude. Kathy Johnson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, said the community was “hungry for learning.” Speakers said that the Parent Center was an asset to the community, providing support, stability services and resources where parents could work with and learn from each other. The parent representing the Vietnamese families said the Alpha Parent Center would provide “good values and discipline where parents can help their children in a win-win situation.”

But most enthusiastic was Karen Martinez, Alpha Parent Center Manager. “You will be surprised how important having family support and participation will be for the students and the community,” she said. “It will make an amazing difference.”

A clear difference was already seen at the resource tables available as part of the opening events. Parents signed up for language and computer classes, offered at morning, afternoon and evening times. PACT began informing parents about the resources to support local community issues. Information and one-on-one support was available for understanding the college grant system and saving for a college education. Foothill Community Health Center informed parents of its resources for families. The line of kids of all ages and their parents to partake in the bounty from Second Harvest wound around the building.

Alpha Students write their dreams on the "dream table."

Alpha students write their dreams on the “dream table.”

And then there was the dream table. Students were encouraged to write their dreams. They ranged from the serious (“My dream is to be a doctor and go to college”), to the inspirational (“My dream and hope is to one day change the world”) to the fun (“My dream is to meet Tyga.”) It was obvious that these students who shared their personal dreams were inspired by Alpha Schools, their teachers and their family.

We should all be so lucky to have big, aspirational dreams. And looking at the crowd of students surrounded by their families at the grand opening, I’m confident that these dreams have a great chance of coming true.

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