Juana Ortiz (middle) is among 80 Pasadena ISD parents who recently graduated from the Charlas parent-engagement program. Also pictured: keynote speaker and PHS alum Ketsy Resendez (left) and Dr. Luis Torres, assistant professor at the University of Houston.
| Ma de la Luz Saldierna (right), a Park View Intermediate parent, celebrates her recent achievement.
Over 100 Pasadena ISD students and their families filled the Rayburn High auditorium recently for a graduation ceremony honoring more than 80 parents who successfully completed the “Charlas” parent-engagement program.
During the ceremony, the graduates received diplomas for attending seven weeks of classes to learn ways to support and advocate for their child’s education.
Superintendent Dr. DeeAnn Powell congratulated the graduates for their recent accomplishment.
“Pasadena ISD appreciates your dedication, support and love for your children,” Dr. Powell said. “We want to continue to build and foster the partnership that we have with each of you. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to work together to meet the highest expectations in addressing the needs of the whole child.”
Now in its second year, Charlas – meaning “chats” in Spanish – are part of a seven-course workshop series open to Pasadena ISD families, which teaches parents ways to become involved in their child’s education and how to foster a learning environment at home.
Each session involves video presentations and interactive discussions led by Charlas facilitators. Trained parent leaders cover topics including the importance of grade-level reading, a parents’ aspirations for their child, ways to ask for help and the educational system. When parents have completed the sessions, they are encouraged to recruit their own team of parents and host Charlas at their homes, local community centers and churches.
The Charlas are offered year-round in English and Spanish, with two graduation ceremonies held in the fall and spring. This year, a total of 192 parents graduated from the program.
The goal of Charlas is to create a partnership between the school district, campuses and parents that ultimately helps increase academic performance among students, especially in core subjects like reading and math and encourages students to continue their education after high school graduation.
Charlas are part of the district’s Path to College initiative, which provides support to parents throughout the college application process.
Pasadena High alum Ketsy Resendez and her mother Yesica Carbajal talked about the benefits of parent involvement based on their personal experiences.
“I saw strength in my daughter when she was young,” Carbajal said. “I noticed that she liked to read and I bought her encyclopedias and books to help her become an avid reader. It is very important to keep pushing when you are a parent because that is how your children become successful.”
With Spanish as her native language, Resendez had to overcome a language barrier when she moved to Texas as a young child.
“Students would make fun of the way I pronounced certain words, but I was not going to let being from another country stop me from making something of myself,” Resendez said.
Resendez continued to experience many challenges throughout her education as an immigrant, but through the support of family and teachers, she excelled in school – graduating third in her class at PHS. She received a full scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a bachelor’s and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics systems.
She credits her parents and parent engagement programs like Charlas for her success.
“I have learned that our biggest supporters are our parents,” Resendez said. “They helped me realize that not only could I graduate high school, but I could make good grades along the way. Our job as students is to work through the papers, exams and the homework. We have teachers to help us with everything we need in school. We need our parents to provide encouragement.”
Program organizers thanked the new graduates for committing time and effort to Charlas and shared their aspirations for the program.
“The fact that you are graduating tonight shows you are willing to give your children support and encouragement, and educate yourselves as well,” said Lupita Almazan, Charlas facilitator. “I believe ‘knowledge shared is power multiplied.’ Thank you for your parent involvement, time, determination to learn, and to everyone who made it possible for the facilitators to help spread the good news that our children can go to college. All it takes is to dream big, set goals and take action.”
Charlas was made possible by A+ Challenge Foundation and the Office of Special Programs.
For more information about Charlas, please contact the Office of Special Programs at 713-740-0068.
Charlas facilitators attend the graduation to watch the parents they have helped along the way receive a diploma for their hard work. Pictured from left to right: Nora Dominguez, Monica Pineda, Lourdes Mendieta, Elizabeth Reyes, Kimberly Ventura, PHS alum Ketsy Resendez, Lupita Almazan, Delia Narvaez, and Esperanza Palestino.
District parent coordinators Chriselda Martinez, UPenn alum Ketsy Resendez, Maria Leal and Obudia Ruiz show their support at the graduation.
Families enjoy the ceremony.
Associate Superintendent of Special Programs Gloria Gallegos thanks parents and sponsors for their participation.
Ketsy Resendez encourages parents to continue being an active part in their child's education. She was accompanied by her mother Yesica Carbajal.
Parent facilitator Lupita Almazan congratulates parents on receiving their certificates of completion.
Patricia Castillo, Bailey parent, shows off her certificate of completion.