By Angela Peacock
A family affair, in which parents get involved to help their children receive the best education possible, is the mission behind Mesalands Community College’s Family Academy.
The college has been working with Tucumcari schools and local parents to design the after-school program to assist children with special academic needs. Teachers refer the children to Beth Sisneros, Title 5 program director, who then sets up an interview with that child and their parents. An estimated 65 children participate in the Family Academy program. Sisneros said parents’ continuous involvement is the key to long-term success.
“Make your child’s teacher your best friend, and be consistent as far as checking in with their teachers,” Sisneros said. “The teachers are there to help you out however they can. All they want to know is that you’re making an effort to be a caring concerned parent.”
Learning groups meet at the Success Center at 216 East Center Street in Tucumcari immediately after school, from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday for first-third graders; from 3:30-4:45 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday for fourth-sixth graders. Sisneros said 3:30-4:45 p.m. Friday’s is open to everyone. Family Academy parents meet 6-7 p.m. the first Monday of each month at the success center.
Not only do the children receive more one-on-one attention during the after-school program, Sisneros believes the children feel more comfortable once they see they aren’t the only people who have troubles in certain areas of academics.
Then she said children tend to focus their attention on learning instead of worrying about what others are thinking about them.
“We have a little girl here who is from Mexico and wasn’t real good with reading in English,” Sisneros said. “She would never ever read when we had group where the children take turns reading out loud. Then one day she finally did and you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. All the children listened and, after she was through, they clapped. Now she wants to read all the time. It truly helps their self esteem, which in turn improves their self confidence.”
Tucumcari Middle School student Lisa Vigil, 12, said she enjoys being part of the family academy because of all the special attention she receives, but also for how much better she understands her assignments.
“They help me a lot with work … and it helps me to know some of the other kids have some of the same questions as me,” Lisa said.
Smiling as her daughter spoke about the after-school program Lucy Vigil said she’s thrilled there is a special program to help Lisa since she’s too shy to ask for extra help during class.
“As a mother it takes some of the stress off me because sometimes I don’t know everything about the homework that gets assigned to the kids but I know here they’re trained to help the children understand the work,” Vigil said.