Graduating parents hold up their diplomas during the Charlas ceremony at Gardens.
A graduation ceremony was held at Gardens Elementary last week – but this time the roles were reversed. Pasadena ISD students watched their parents receive the diplomas.
More than 100 parents representing 11 district campuses received a certificate from the Office of Special Programs for completing the Charlas parent-engagement program. The diplomas signify months of dedication parents put in to become advocates of their child’s education.
Gloria Gallegos, the district's associate superintendent of Special Programs, praised the graduates for their hard work and commitment to educating students at home.
“This is more than just a sheet of paper," Gallegos said. "This shows your dedication and willingness to work collaboratively with the school system to ensure a quality education for kids. We are very proud of you."
Alberto Gonzalez, parent of a Milstead student, smiled proudly as he crossed the stage to receive his diploma and to accept his wife’s diploma in her absence. When they learned about Charlas, the certified public account and his wife, Dinorah, decided to put aside their busy schedules to participate in the program.
“Parents need to understand what is going on in our schools,” Gonzalez said. “This program has helped provide our family with stability and we are optimistic that it will prepare our children for the future.”
Now in its second year, Charlas – which means “chat” in English – is a seven-course workshop series open to all Pasadena ISD parents.
Each session involves a video presentation and group discussions with Charlas facilitators and other parents. The sessions cover the following topics: Hope, How to Make a Plan, Reading, Math, Asking for Help, Understanding the Educational System and Health.
The goal of the program 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.
“Through the Charlas program, parents learn how to communicate with campuses, how the educational system works and the impact health has on their child’s educational career,” said Ruby Salinas Marroquin, Special Programs coordinator. “We want to ensure students have all the support they need and in order to accomplish that goal, we all must work together.”
Graduating parents attended all seven sessions throughout the school year, which were held at various campuses and churches in the community.
Charlas is part of the district’s "Path to College" initiative, which provides support to parents throughout the college application process. Parents get tips on how to help their child apply for financial aid, scholarships and admission.
“Path to College helps students prepare for the future and ensures parents understand their engagement is connected to the academic achievement of students,” said Mirla Lopez, the Path to College coordinator and parent facilitator.
Julia Pineda, a junior at Pasadena High, noticed a transformation when her mother decided to participate in Charlas.
“My mother became more involved in how and what I was doing in school and what events were going on,” Pineda said. “She motivated me to focus more in school and definitely helped improve my grades. She learned how to cope with children and about resources available whenever we struggled in subjects. “Most importantly, it gave my mother hope that anyone in any situation can attend college as long as they have the resources, determination and support of family, teachers and friends.”
Pineda had the opportunity to hand her mother the diploma she earned for completing the Charlas program.
“I am so proud of her,” Pineda said.
For more information about Charlas, please contact the Office of Special Programs.
Gloria Gallegos, associate superintendent of Special Programs, delivers the first keynote speech to Charlas graduates and their families at Gardens.
Pasadena High junior Julia Pineda talks about the positive
impact Charlas has made on her family.
Charlas parent facilitators
Special Programs coordinators