Our nation´s educational challenges are so great and seemingly insurmountable that we read daily about new programs and approaches. Foundations big and small, corporations, governments at all levels and other organizations expend resources and energy to address vexing issues in the expectation that they will reap dividends, improving outcomes and increasing educational opportunity.
The impact of all these programs is directed at children, and many focus on improving those who educate our youth directly. Teachers and schools are the institutions that come to mind when we think of educators. But have we forgotten the “smallest school,” the place where children learn the most and people who teach the most? The parents! Ask any mom, or dad, grandfather, or grandmother. Nothing, no matter what you do, ever fully prepares you to raise a child; but every little bit helps tremendously.
Countless studies have proved that the more parents involve themselves in a child’s life and education the greater the likelihood that child has to succeed. Parents, however, often lack information about the best ways to be involved.
Parents Step Ahead, a Dallas-based organization established a decade ago, has developed and applied a proven model of parental engagement.
Parents Step Ahead (PSA) conducts parental engagement programs in schools in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area and in San Antonio “to recognize, educate, enable and empower parents to take a proactive role in the educational and personal development of their children.” Its beginnings 9 years ago, its growth and successes merit our attention.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of El Hispano News, publisher and founder Lupita Colmenero, rather than a celebration, noted: “We report on the many problems in our community. Should we not do something to remediate them?” The response was an enthusiastic “yes!”
Colmenero, a trained social worker and immigrant from Mexico, sensed that parents, particularly Latinos, were not sufficiently engaged in their children’s education, schools and individual development. Conversations with experts confirmed that view. Parents Step Ahead was established in 2006 to address the growing lack of awareness and education plaguing parents, especially underserved families, which puts their children at great disadvantage. We believe parents are the foundation of their child’s future; and to a great extent the key to their success in life.
Parents Step Ahead partners with local school districts, companies and community organizations to offer educational school-based seminar programs for parents throughout the year.
For a decade, Parents Step Ahead has expanded its educational seminars to launch several key initiatives which now make up the entirety of its educational programming.