“When my oldest son came to this school he was struggling academically and was very timid, but the teachers helped him grow several grade levels and boosted his self esteem and confidence,” said Araceli Albores, an Ánimo Ellen Ochoa Charter Middle School (AEO) parent. At AEO, teachers saw her son’s potential and applied the necessary supports and interventions to help him better understand content and achieve the growth needed to get back on track. Now a sophomore in high school, her son has straight As and is actively involved on campus. “I know this school has played a big role in the development of my son.”
Support Beyond the Classroom
When Albores moved to the Boyle Heights community three years ago, she knew she needed to find a good school for her sons to attend. Speaking with other parents in the community, AEO was recommended a number of times. “Some things that attracted me to the school were the small class sizes and the school’s high expectations. I felt that it would be a safe and good school for my children to grow,” said Albores. While AEO has supported the growth of both her children, the school has also encouraged Albores to develop a stronger voice in her children’s education and in her community.
Green Dot has always believed in the power of families and students to self-advocate for the kind of community revitalization they need. One way we achieve this is through our collaboration with United Parents and Students (UPAS). Green Dot partners with UPAS to develop the leadership capacity of our families and create opportunities for them to acquire resources while strengthening and developing skills to better advocate for their children and communities.
One way we do this is through our Parent Academy Workshops. The Parent Academy provides parents with tailored information about how to better support their students on their path to college. At AEO, Green Dot Parent Coordinator, Jacqueline Cuevas has hosted workshops on topics including college readiness, family-school communication, mental health supports, common core, financial literacy, community safety, cyberbullying prevention, and of course college planning. Albores has attended all of these workshops and more so that she feels better equipped to support her sons on their road to college. She knows that education is the biggest driver of social mobility and thus takes advantage of all these resources so as to ensure she can better support her sons through their educational journeys.
As a Green Dot alumna, Cuevas witnessed the impact of these workshops firsthand. “Like many of our students I was a first generation college student. I graduated from Ánimo Venice Charter High School and saw my parents benefit from the workshops they attended,” recalled Cuevas. Her parents learned about A-G requirements, first year challenges of college, and how to complete critical components of the college process such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
“During my senior year of high school, my parents began coming home and asking me questions about my applications and my FAFSA. Being a teenager I thought it was annoying, but I still remember the excitement in their eyes.” Parent engagement and resources such as Parent Academy are crucial supports for students who are the first in their family to attend college. Otherwise students are forced to navigate the college system by themselves, whereas students whose parents attended college have access to prior knowledge. So though Cuevas’ parents had never attended college, the knowledge and resources they received at the Parent Academy equipped them with a number of tools to help their daughter successfully navigate college.
For the past three years, AEO has served as a safe and supportive learning environment for Albores and her children. “The teachers and staff always do what's in the best interest of students to help them succeed, but as a parent I know I play a big role in this work too. Helping students do better in school is not only the school’s responsibility, but us parents as well,” said Albores. At AEO, parents are true partners in the education process, this collaborative relationship improves school outcomes, supports families, and strengthens the pathway to college. At Green Dot, we believe not only in transforming schools, but also in supporting families transform communities. We know that the students we serve do not study, struggle, or succeed alone. They do so together with their families, but with a high quality education, multi-tiered supports, and access to resources like Parent Academy, families can succeed together.