Leaders encourage Hispanic parents to become involved in education

Superintendent Jim Parry told Hispanic parents Saturday, "Nuestra escuela es su escuela (Our school is your school)."

Parry opened the Padres del Milenio (Parents of the Millennium) conference held at Carson High School which was designed to help Hispanic parents across the district become more involved in their children's education.

"At the end of the day, I hope you feel a little closer to the school district," Parry said.

Loving your children and becoming involved in their education were the two major themes presented at the conference.

"Please love our children until they are capable of loving themselves," Chopin Kiang, an educational consultant for the Nevada Department of Education, told parents.

The conference started at 9 a.m. with a brief introduction. Later, it was divided into five different workshops and parents chose two to attend.

Mara Lourdes Saldana chose to attend Success in the Classroom.

"As a mother, I want to be sure that my child can succeed," she said in Spanish. "I need to be teaching her at home in addition to her learning in school."

Other workshops covered issues such as truancy laws, students' rights, higher education and how parents can become involved in the school system.

"We feel that it's important for the Hispanics to know what's going on in the school system," said Raquel Knecht, director of Nevada Hispanic Services in Carson City, which helped sponsor the event. "It's important that they be here."

Keynote speaker, Laura Ibarra, has personal experience working within the school system. She has five children who are, or at one time were, enrolled in the Washoe County School District.

Ibarra came to the United States from Mexico 32 years ago with her parents and eight brothers and sisters.

She said she saw how her parents struggled with the language and the culture but worked hard to provide her with a better life.

"We need to remember that we came to this country," she said. "For this reason, we should learn the language and the system of this country."

She said that one of the biggest problems facing Hispanic parents is that schools often do not want children to speak their native language.

However she said problems should be resolved in a civilized manner.

"There is an order to everything," she said. "An attitude of violence never benefits anyone."

Adolfo Segura, who works Nevada Hispanic Services and the school district, organized the conference.

"We really need the parents to get involved in the school district," he said. "It's very crucial that they become involved."

Lupe Villagrana, father of two, said the conference helped him understand better the educational system.

"I learned a lot of things and heard a lot of new ideas," he said. "We need to get ready for the future."

He said one of the hopes he has for the future is that his children will have better jobs that are not as labor intensive as the ones he and others have.

Father of three, Jose Gmez said he thinks education is the key to success as Hispanics.

"Education is fundamental to be able to have political representation," he said. "We are growing rapidly and and we need to be represented."

Ibarra said parents need to set a positive example for their children to live by.

Villagrana said he hopes his children learn by the example set by the conference.

"They're (the organizers) are trying to help us," he said. "I want them to be able to help out others in the community-not just Hispanics, everyone."

Knecht said she hopes to expand the program so that a conference can be held at each school within the Carson City School District.

After the conference, parents were bused to Western Nevada Community College for a tour and information about basic adult education and English-as-a-second-language classes.


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