Education summit inspired parents to take charge of their children’s education

Valentina Hernandez and Olivia Ochean attended an education summit held at Hoover High School that empowered them to help improve their children’s academic performance

Participating in a recent education summit became a life changing experience for some City Heights parents. Angelica Rodriguez, mother of two Wilson Middle School students, emotionally described her transformative experience at the Nov. 19 summit at Hoover High School.

“It was beautiful the way it changed my outlook,” Rodriguez said.

Before the summit, Rodriguez said she hadn’t been involved in her eighth-grade son’s academics because she spent so much time focused on her sixth-grade daughter’s educational challenges. The conference has motivated her to support her son’s goal to attend college.

“I didn’t know what was possible before,” Rodriguez said. Since the conference she’s been discussing with her son what he needs to do to meet university entrance requirements. “He’s more motivated (now). He’s more focused.”

Rodriguez was one of many City Heights parents who asked Dr. Alberto Ochoa, co-chair of the San Diego County Latino Coalition for Education, to help them organize the information and training summit at Hoover to educate parents on partnering with schools and improve their children’s academic performance. The half-day summit comprised a series of breakout groups to help parents understand A-G requirements (high school requirements for admission to California state universities), trends, obstacles, bilingual education, and available resources.

Hoover High Parent Center volunteer Delia Contreras said the summit was “exciting” and “fluid and harmonious,” and helped her understand what classes her grandchildren would need to take from kindergarten through high school. She said she now feels confident she can pass this information on to other parents.

Contreras is a Parent Center volunteer because she learned firsthand how parental involvement can improve student achievement. After getting involved at the Parent Center, she saw her granddaughter improve her grades from mostly C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s. She said the difference was holding her granddaughter accountable and letting her know she would support her.

The experience inspired her to continue volunteering at the Parent Center even though her granddaughter is no longer at Hoover. “I feel like I need to do this. I need to make Hoover a better place for when my youngest grand kids get there.”

Other parents came away from the conference with a better understanding of how to work with the schools to improve multilingual instruction. Rosy Rangel wants to work with the schools to achieve academic excellence and improve foreign language instruction. She believes schools are better equipped than she is to teach her children Spanish writing skills. “Every person has their own responsibility,” Rangel said.

Likewise, Gloria Gomez wants the schools to help her children lose their fear of “speaking and writing in Spanish.”

Thu Tong and other Vietnamese-speaking parents would like the schools to include Vietnamese as a language option for students.

For Valentina Hernandez, the conference was about empowering parents to be better teachers at home. “Parents are the No. 1 teacher for their children,” she said. “If they are not informed, how can they get them (their kids) the information?”

Sponsored by the San Diego County Latino Coalition for Education, the Chase Foundation, Price Charities and others, the summit was attended by 111 parents. The attendees are passing on what they learned from the summit to others and hope to host more educational summits in the future.