Jessie Garza, Jr.Parent & Community Involvement Director Yakima School District
Yakima School DistrictService Area Characteristics The Yakima School District (YSD), consists of 21 elementary, middle, high and alternative schools, and is located in rural eastern Washington State in the community of Yakima and has an enrollment of over 15,000 students. Approximately 75,000 of the residents live in the City of Yakima, but it encompasses approximately 110,000 residents who live in the Yakima Valley. In the past fifteen years, the population of Yakima has exploded with an influx of residents that has primarily been comprised of Mexican and Hispanic immigrants who labor as farmworkers. Families continue to migrate to Yakima annually during agricultural seasons.
Before talking to parents about the importance of parental involvement in their children’s education. It’s important that parents “know who we are.” Parents need to know that I am a person, regardless of my position, whether I am a teacher, a building principal, or a director, etc. and just because I may wear a suit and tie to work, and have a college education doesn’t mean that I’m all that different. And, what qualifies me on this subject? Knowing a little about my background, such as where I came from, how I got to where I am, etc. can many times open the doors to better communication and help establish trust and build a good rapport with parents. Especially if they feel that the presenter or person talking to them has similar or comparable life experiences or backgrounds as they do.
Settled in 1942and were among 1 of only 6 other Hispanic families known to have settled in the Yakima Valley at that time.
My grandparentsAmbrosio and Herminia Moreno Raised me – they were my mentors and educators! Though my grandmother couldn’t read or write in English, she taught me how to read and write in Spanish before I started 1st grade. It was always my grandparents’ dream that I would finish high school and maybe someday be able to work in a grocery store as a box boy! To them, this was a huge step- up in terms of upward mobility – career wise! My grandfather passed away when I was a Freshman in High School. During my sophomore year in High School, before my grandmother passed away from cancer; I made her a promise that I would finish high school and graduate.
Education & Professional Experience As I had promised my grandmother; I graduated from High School in 1970. In 1971, my wife and I married at the young age of 19 years, and I worked at “El Ranchito” a Mexican food restaurant and tortilla factory. I started my career in social services at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, YVFWC in 1974, where I worked as a Dental Educator and Outreach Worker. While at the YVFWC, I worked my way up the ladder, became the Human Resources Director and Director of Operations. I attended College full-time at night & weekends, while working full-time. In 1982, I was one of the first in our family to graduate from College with a Bachelors Degree. In 1982, I formed the Northwest Community Action Center, NCAC, a new division of the YVFWC. which grew from 4 full-time staff to 75 FTE and 350 Part-time staff who provide: Energy Assistance & Weatherization Program Youth & Adult Employment and Training Program 21st Century Programs and other dropout prevention programs, & A host of other services with a mission of assisting families and individuals to achieve self-sufficiency In 2005, I accepted a position with the Yakima School District as the Parent & Community Involvement Director.
This is the home where I was raised and where my wife and I began raising our 3 children.
Because of my grandparents’ involvement in my life, my wife and I too made sure to be involved in our children’s education and as a result! • All 3 of our children graduated from high school with honors. • All 3 of our children graduated from Washington State University, WSU with honors. • All 3 of our children are married and have their own careers; • Our son: Jessie J. Garza is a High School Science Teacher in the Vancouver School District and was the 1st grandchild to graduate from college. • Our son: Michael D. Garza is an Architect at BCRA in Tacoma • Our daughter: Karionne M. Garza is a 3rd Grade Teacher in the Prosser School District and is the 1st grandchild to earn a Master’s Degree.
“Volunteering at Home”Understanding why parents don’t get involved Empowering parents to get involved in their child’s education Why and how to track progress
In our efforts to find out why parents don’t get involved or engaged in their child’s education, our district held several meetings with parents. At these meetings; the 4 most common reasons that Parents/Guardians indicated why they can’t volunteer or don’t get involved were: • They can’t speak English • They can’t read or write • They can’t help their son/daughter with their math problems or other difficult subject areas! • They work fulltime and can’t get time off from work.
Thus, Evolved The Parent/Guardian Home Support Volunteer Program As a result of meetings with parent groups, input from our Parent & Community Advisory Group, and our 21st Century Site Coordinators, the Yakima School District came up with the idea of designing a pilot program. This pilot program is designed to engage and empower “all families” with emphasis in those who work full-time and find it difficult to be engaged in school sponsored activities that are generally held during the regular school day, and families from low-income and diverse cultural backgrounds who often do not feel comfortable at school. This pilot program is designed to allow parents to perform volunteer services from their homes, help parents build their confidence by helping them recognize and utilize their personal strengths and empowering them as parent volunteers.
If they don’t speak English – it’s OK! If they can’t read or write – it’s OK! If they can’t help their child with school work - it’s OK! If they work full-time during the daytime – it’s OK! Before you try to enroll parents, they need to be made aware that even;
Parents need to know that even if they can’t speak English, read or write, as a volunteer; a parent can…. Find a place for his/her child to study and/or to do their schoolwork; whether it’s at the kitchen table, on the sofa, or even on the floor.
As volunteers parents can be involved by attending their child’s extra-curricular activities that are held at school in the evenings!
As volunteers, parents can be involved by attending their child’s sports events or volunteering to help as a coach or as a coaches assistant!
As volunteers, parents can also be involved by sharing their own interest or hobbies with their children, which also helps them create a bond with their children!
Volunteering can also include sharing information about their interest and hobbies in their child’s class
Volunteer work also includes teaching, modeling, building and recognizing good character at home. We want to remind parents that whatever behavior their children see their parents model - they too will model. “Character. It’s who you are!”
As the parents begin to gain their confidence, they can contact their child’s teachers who can suggest parent-child interactive activities that are coordinated with the curriculum such as; skills practice, enrichment games, or other activities that support their child’s education. This can also be an opportunity for the parents to learn along with their child to read and write.
As their child’s home support volunteer, families can help their children develop good study habits, supervise their homework, monitor TV viewing, and after-school activities, and supervise regular bedtimes and school attendance.
As a volunteer, and as their confidence continues to build; parents become their child’s advocates to make sure their children are getting the needed help to do well in school. Even if the parent can’t read or write, when their child is having difficulty completing school work assignments, and as their child’s advocate and the district’s parent/guardian volunteer; They can call and/or visit their child’s school to inquire about what student support services are available such as tutoring, after-school programs i.e. 21st Century Community Learning Centers, (21st CCLC), enrichment programs, GEAR-UP, etc.
Getting parents enrolled as volunteers Enrollments into the program can be done effectively during parent/teacher conferences, and/or in small groups of parents. Enrollments can be done by inviting parents whose children are enrolled in the 21st Century Program to a special meeting where the program is explained to them in a group setting, and/or the presentation could be done in conjunction with a regularly scheduled parent night. However, enrollments during the first year of the program should be done on a small scale with maybe only a few parents who are willing to help you to identify and provide input with what works, what doesn’t and how to improve.
Review the Duties & Responsibilities • Primary Function: This person will provide their volunteer services from their home and will be responsible for promoting and ensuring that education is a high priority in their child’s life. • Their duties will include being engaged and involved with their child by spending quality time and monitoring their child’s school work to ensure that it is being completed by their son, daughter, grandchild, and/or otherwise a child under their guardianship. They will act as their child’s advocate by contacting the schools when their children need assistance with difficult to understand subject areas such as math problems, making sure that their child gets plenty of rest and sleep to ensure that they are ready to learn each day. • Examples of activities: At home, volunteers will set-aside time, space and check daily that the student has completed their homework as assigned by their teacher(s). Activities may also include signing a form indicating that homework assignments have been completed and returned to their teacher. • Set aside time to hear their child read, or read to their child in their own native language English, Spanish, or other. Help student prepare for tests by setting aside study times, playing games that are engaging, or other fun activities or hobbies that can be shared e.g. playing basketball, review character education traits being learned, etc. Other activities may include volunteering to help out in their child’s classroom. When possible, attend teacher/parent conferences, or other school sponsored activities for parents such as: Math, Literacy, Science nights, and other parent/family engaged activities.
Desired Qualification and Requirements • This person can be a parent, grandparent or guardian of the student attending Yakima School District, (YSD). • This person must have the desire to motivate student, have patience, model good character, and provide positive words of encouragement and support. • Willing to be their child’s advocate and make every effort to become familiarized with resources available to help their child’s academic and non-academic needs. • Willing to make an effort to attend teacher/parent conferences. • Must be willing to also support their child in the non-academic and positive activities such as the sports they are involved in, after school activities and other events e.g. soccer, baseball, volleyball, hobbies, etc.
Parents/Guardians will need to fill out a district volunteer application form. • Though parents will be providing their volunteer service from home, we still ask them to fill out the volunteer application form. • The primary purpose of filling out a volunteer application is to be able to capture their work and credit them for their service.
As volunteers; parents/guardians will be asked to complete the monthly reporting form which can be collected on a monthly basis, for every month they volunteer.
The purpose of the monthly reporting form • It can help provide the district collect valuable information about the types of activities parents are actively involved in with their children that are effective and creating positive results. • It will provide back up data and confirmation for reporting the parents’ involvement and in meeting their parent and school compacts. • Once collected it will help other parents with suggestions or ideas about the types of activities that they can do with their children at home and/or at school.
For parents who have indicated that they can’t read or write or speak English, the district has partnered up with Yakima Valley Community College to provide ESL classes and with Central Washington University to provide GED Classes, so that they can develop the necessary skills to help their children with school work and assignments!
It is also important! As their child’s volunteer; Parents teach their children and encourage them to ask for help themselves when they need help with their school work!
A child who develops good study habits, along with good characterand supportive parents that are involved
Has a better chance of completing high school, vocational education, or college and obtaining the Skills for Successful Living
Thank You! Questions or thoughts? Jessie Garza, Jr. Yakima School District Parent/Community Involvement Director 104 North 4th Avenue Yakima, Washington 98902 (509)573-7140 Garza.Jessie@Yakimaschools.org
Jessie Garza, Jr. Yakima School District Parent/Community Involvement Director 104 North 4th Avenue Yakima, Washington 98902 (509)573-7140 Garza.Jessie@Yakimaschools.org