Norma Valenzuela is referred to as a Parent Educator. She works for the Donna Independent School District assisting parents at her campus and the district with activities as needed. It is important for her to be involved.
Donna ISD administrators commend Valenzuela for her participation. They believe parental involvement is key to student success. That is why they invested in a program offered by the Texas Valley Community Foundation. The Parent Academy for Success of Schools (PASOS) is a 10-session workshop in its third year at the district.
Valenzuela went through the PASOS program. “When I was introduced to PASOS, it was an eye opener for me,” Valenzuela said. “Throughout the years, curriculum has changed; it has become more challenging to both students and parents. The PASOS program helps parents build an understanding of how to help their children. It helps to strengthen family relationships and provides the necessary tools to achieve student success.”
Parents who attend the PASOS program are given an overview of the district. They learn about the curriculum and what programs are available at their child’s campus. They also learn such things and how to create a healthy and nurturing environment at home, build a parent/teacher relationship, instill a college-going culture, and maintain and balance a financial account to provide for their child’s future education. The program wraps up with a community-type fair where the district brings in different agencies from the community and the parents receive information from the community vendors. Each vendor presents their services to the parents as well.
“There is research out there that indicates that when parents are involved in their child’s education, not necessarily volunteering at school but being involved at home, the child will likely be successful in the classroom and in life,” Parental Involvement Director Tomas Tamez explained. “Simply by talking to their child and asking questions, they can find out what their child is learning at school. Spending quality time with their child is important, even if it is just 5 10, 15 minutes. That’s a very big part of parental involvement.”
Tamez said the PASOS program has become very successful. This year, the district’s goal is to reach out and educate even more parents. “We wanted to venture into a new phase in our program where we have our own personnel trained in these PASOS sessions,” Tamez explained. “There are school districts throughout the Valley that have the PASOS program but it is my understanding we are the first district that will be training our own parent educators. Once the parent educators receive their training, they will be qualified to hold PASOS workshops for parents.”
Five parent educators including Valenzuela were selected to receive the training.
“I feel strongly about parent involvement and believe that educating our parents will ultimately lead to the success of their children,” Valenzuela said. “I am excited to take part in this district initiative and look forward to implementing the PASOS Program with our district parents.”
The training covers three areas — overview of PASOS, a focus on staff development and program implementation, and a session on presentation skills which teaches parent educators how to be effective, successful trainers. “I see the program growing in the future,” Tamez said. “Right now, we’re training five parent educators but if we can teach others to be trainers, we will just grow and more parents will be exposed to the PASOS curriculum. By training the parents, we will be increasing our student success.”