Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Spotlighting One Parent’s Experience with DiscoverBooks
One mother’s story in the DiscoverBooks Program
Rose, mother of four boys including a second grader and fifth grader at EN White School, moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts two years ago from Puerto Rico. Like many immigrant families, she moved here so that her children could have access to better education and opportunities. With the whole family speaking only Spanish at the time of their arrival, it was a tough adjustment.
Her two older sons now speak perfect English, but for Rose learning English has been a slower process. This has long been a source of frustration given that she is eager to get a good job to better support her family. Her lack of English has been the primary barrier to accessing good jobs, but what was equally difficult was the sense of feeling unconnected from the systems in her new country. She was often overwhelmed by how hard it was to understand the way things work—from not knowing how to prepare for or find a good job, to struggling to understand what was expected of her son for a school research project.
This year Rose took part in Reader to Reader’s DiscoverBooks Program, which helped her to move forward in many ways. The time spent helping parents learn English allowed her to improve at a faster pace than ever before. Spending time at her son’s school and learning about the critical importance of family literacy has made a world of difference for the whole family. Rose observed regularly in her sons’ classrooms and gained a better understanding of the school environment and behavior expectations. She also got to meet many of her sons’ teachers and become familiar with the school staff.
For the first time, Rose attended the Parent Teacher conferences. She felt comfortable since she had met the teacher through program activities activities. Using what we had practiced in class, she was able to proudly communicate with the teacher almost without a translator. One of her son’s teachers came up to the parent class teacher and told her that Rose had never come to a conference before. This time she had not only showed up and had the confidence to communicate in English, but had also been prepared with pertinent questions and an understanding of her responsibilities as a parent in supporting her children’s progress in school.
Now, Rose has a clear career goal, to become a CNA, and knows what steps she has to take to get there. This is thanks to the knowledge of job opportunities she gained through the time spent in class on career exploration. Likewise, her improving English is what’s allowed this to become a reachable goal. Rose looks forward to continuing to learn so that she can take the next exciting step of working a job that can support her family.
Rose took advantage of all that was being offered through DiscoverBooks. She made the jump from being a parent that assumes her children’s education is primarily the school’s responsibility to being a parent that takes the lead in supporting her children’s academics and development. She is able to understand and stay on top of her sons’ homework duties. She reads every night to her sons and it has become a favorite family pastime to read and act out the stories together. Rose is a model of what this program is designed to achieve.
(pictured above) Rose reading and acting out “I’ll Follow the Moon” in a presentation put on for a second grade class at EN White School.
Reader to Reader’s DiscoverBooks Program receives generous support from Mary Ann Cofrin and the AEC Trust, the Target Foundation, and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.