New center looks for family involvement

By Dave Gragg

There is one goal for the new Success Center: Get more students through school and into college.
To do that, the program will work to make learning a family affair, Director Beth Sisneros said.
In addition to tutoring students from kindergarten to 12th grade, the program’s three academic coaches will work with the parents, she said.
“We’re the liaison between parents and teachers,” she said.
The coaches will also make home visits, helping students and talking with the parents.
“A lot of parents don’t know themselves how important education is,” she said.
Parents whose children are enrolled in the program will have to attend one of two workshop a month, Sisneros said. The evening workshops will be on topics such as budget planning, computer basics or other life skills.
The center will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony 4 p.m. Thursday, but will actually begin operations at the end of May or beginning of June with a summer enhancement program, Sisneros said.
Tucumcari school Superintendent Dr. Bill Reents, who is also on the center’s advisory board, said by having a summer class, students would be less likely to lose the information they learned during the school year.
He pointed to the standardized test scores that showed young Tucumcari students well above average.
“In first and second grade, we look great,” he said. “We need to continue that. The Success Center can help.”
Teachers have already referred 32 students to the center, with more expected, Sisneros said.
The help to students will be more than just academic tutoring. One of the students who has been referred to the program has low self-esteem. Others need to be challenged more than at school.
Parents can ask for their children to be included in the program, but Sisneros said it was best if the teacher referrs them because the teachers better know the students’ weaknesses.
The second half of the Success Center is on the college level, Sisneros said.
In addition to offering a scholarship to Mesalands Community College, the center’s facilitator will work with college staff to increase student success and retention, she said.
On Saturday, there will be a fundraiser at the VFW Building, the proceeds of which will help establish the scholarship. The federal government will match all the money raised, up to $25,000. Sisneros is hoping to raise a total of $50,000 for the fund.
The program, funded by a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is being administered by Mesalands Community College.
Sisneros said although the college received the grant because most students at Mesalands are Hispanic, the center will be open to everyone.
“It’s going to be for everybody who is educationally challenged,” she said.
The center will be in the former SPS building across from Tucumcari City Hall and will have meeting rooms, a computer library with Internet access and a place to study.

ribbon cutting
4 p.m. Thursday
216 E. Center

social hour: 7-8
dance: 8 to midnight
VFW hall 105 E. Main