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Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in ACE Learning Center, ACE Partners, Continuing Education | 0 comments

Alpha Parent Center Students Study Hard To Be An Example To Their Kids

By Martha Sessums, President, ACE

You think your day is long and hard? Try working two jobs to support your family, then attending school to learn English for several hours, four days a week.

That scenario is pretty normal for many of the Alpha Parent Center students at Cindy Avitia High School in San Jose. This ACE Learning Center provides parents of Alpha middle and high school students the space and resources needed to build a community of families, a place to access stability services, and opportunities to grow and become leaders. Classes include English proficiency for Latino and Vietnamese parents, technology skills and leadership programs.

Success is hard work. According to Karen Martinez, Alpha Parent Center Manager, in the year and one-half of operation there are five parents who are ready to earn their high school diploma, and all families have completed their final project, which is a one-page essay describing the most important day in their life. Beginner students are learning English fast and understand spoken conversations. In addition, many of the parents can type and browse the web on the computer.

Maria Martinez shows off her Family Tree project.

Maria Martinez shows off her Family Tree project.

“All our Alpha Parent student’s are star students,” said Karen Martinez. “One of them is Maria Martinez. Maria works two jobs, as many of our parents do to make ends meet. Maria comes to class from a long day at times hungry and tired. Nevertheless, Maria still arrives with an open mind, ready to learn English and how to use computers. Maria does all of this to better the future of her family, but most of all to be an example to her kids.”

Access to much of the services and information in Silicon Valley is through computers, so teaching computer skills will be a focus, according to Sergio Carreon, Parent Center Instructor.

“Our next project will be on done only on the computer,” Carreon said. “We are also going to learn skills such as Google Drive to understand cloud storage and file backup. But it’s not all about computers. We want to start peer-to-peer learning where advance students work with beginners, and instill the belief that all students can go to college – even our parents.”

Karen Martinez has big dreams for Parent Center support. “I want to offer extra Saturday computer classes and bus our families to colleges surrounding our area,” she said. “Also, I would love to offer classes in Zumba, path to citizenship and preparing for interviews, while offering services in taxes, legal assistance, resume preparation, counseling and a work clothing exchange program.”

There are challenges at Alpha Parent Center, including the need for more class space and meeting the costs of childcare during parent classes. Also, many students don’t have a computer or access to the Internet at home, which can slow down learning computer skills and delay completing homework or that special project.

But the parent students at Alpha Parent Center are dedicated to working hard because they want to be an example to their children.

“My experience at Alpha has been fantastic,” said Maria Martinez. “I enjoy going to school everyday. My teacher, Mr. Carreon, gives me the confidence and tools to learn English. I started to study English in August 2015, and I have seen how far my classmates and I have improved. My hope is my new skills will help me to get one good paying job, verses the two jobs I currently have to support my family. Without this opportunity, I would not be able to reach my goals as a mother.”

The next time I want to complain about doing my French homework, I’ll take inspiration from Maria. Allez! (Let’s go!)

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