The Latino Literacy program has four new graduates who have completed a six-week program that promotes literacy and bilingualism. The program was a collaborative effort between the 21st Century-Texas ACE grant program and the Lufkin ISD Bilingual Services Department. Lufkin High School student volunteers in the Communities in Schools program helped with child care so parents could attend sessions.

Inmaculada Escobedo, Jose Escobedo, Violeta Montoya and Olivia Rosales spent Monday nights attending sessions to learn reading skills and strategies to use while reading with their children at home. To celebrate their success, the graduates received a certificate, prizes, good food and games with their children.

Veronica Powell, first grade dual language teacher at Burley Primary, helped instruct the classes and welcomed the group to the graduation.

“Thank you for coming every Monday and for taking the time to come,” she said. “I hope you’ve learned something and helped your kids to read. Continue with the strategies you’ve learned, and continue reading to your kids so they can succeed.”

The graduates had an opportunity to speak and all were very grateful for the opportunity to learn.

“Thank you for helping us and teaching us – without you we couldn’t do all of this,” said Inmaculada Escobedo.

Her husband Jose who was also a graduate said he improved practicing his Spanish and was thankful for everything.

“Thank you for taking the time to teach us and for all y’all did for us,” said graduate Olivia Rosales. “It was a great experience.”

Inmaculada says she had a great time and will definitely miss the program and the friendships they’ve made.

“I want to thank you for this great program for parents,” said Violeta Montoya. “It was a stress-free program and very good for me.”

Joseph Pino, Region 7 Bilingual Family Engagement Specialist, attended the graduation and said he was happy to be there to show his support.

“The Latino Family Literacy program has been around for many years,” he said. “It’s a turnkey program. The staff went through training virtually and learned how to teach week by week. The goal is to promote family literacy. My role at Region 7 Bilingual Family Engagement Services is to be here for support.”

Veronica Powell and Carrie Wright taught the program.

“I’ve seen the parents reading more with their children at home,” said Veronica. At the beginning they were not sure, now they are more involved with their reading. We give them different skills, different strategies to use at home.”

Carrie Wright, Raices Project Director at Stephen F. Austin State University, said the reason she got involved was her love for bilingual education.

“I have a passion for bilingual education,” she said. “I’ve seen the benefits of learning both languages beside each other. When I see children improving their reading skills in one language – that skill translates very well to the other language.”

The next Latino Literacy program is being planned for the fall.