Idania Fuentes sits inside the Casa View Elementary School cafeteria. Her three children hover around mom fueled by the ideal balance of poise and precociousness.
There’s 10-year-old Erick, who aims to be an engineer when he grows up. Then we have 8-year-old Eduardo, who proudly announces he’ll be a soccer star. Finally, 6-year-old Marycarmen exclaims her plans to be a teacher. Erick, Eduardo and Marycarmen participated in Big Thought’s Thriving Minds After-School program during the 2014-2015 year.
But this story isn’t about the kids. This time the focus is on the parents. Fuentes and her husband Isidro Campuzano are two-time graduates of The Concilio program. Established in 1981, The Concilio is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to bridging the gap between parents and the educational system. The Concilio does focus on the growing Hispanic population, but classes are available for parents of all backgrounds.
What are mom and pop studying? Education and health are top of mind. Parents learn valuable lessons on preventing childhood obesity, which is prevalent in Hispanic families, by motivating their kids to eat healthy, balanced meals and exercise regularly. The education classes help parents navigate the rigors of homework, high school and college readiness, and the sometimes complicated process of choosing the right courses for their children.
A decade ago The Concilio partnered with Big Thought to provide parental classes at the Thriving Minds campuses, including Marsh Preparatory Academy, Medrano Middle School (whose April 14 Concilio ceremonies featured 46 parent graduates), Anson Jones Elementary School, Lorenzo De Zavala Elementary School, G.W. Carver Learning Center, Harold Wendell Lang, Sr. Middle School, Jerry R. Junkins Elementary School, and Casa View Elementary School.
Fuentes and Campuzano graduated from the 2014-2015 program titled Parents Advocating for Student Excellence (PASE), which was conceived by The Concilio, and the 2015-2016 companion Padres Comprometidos (PC) program, created by the National Council of La Raza. PASE specifically focuses on giving parents of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds the tools they need to swim through the school system, tackle academic challenges, foster a home learning environment, and visualize higher education. PC is all about getting parents to play a leading role in preparing their children for college. The graduation ceremony, where parents walk the stage and receive a certificate, was held at Casa View.
“I now understand better the classes they need, the classes they want to learn toward a career,” said Fuentes. “I was so lost with the school system in general and after the program I really understand and know how important it is for them to have good grades, how important it is to complete homework. They feel more included in the process, in the educational process, in their careers. It’s really opened my mind and put my thoughts in order.”