Even though it happened 14 years ago, it still stings when Eva Pardo remembers that she missed her son’s kindergarten graduation at North Godwin Elementary.
She received a notice beforehand informing her of Manuel’s childhood milestone. But there was a problem: the notice was printed in English. At the time, Pardo only understood Spanish.
She and her husband, Jose, and their family emigrated from Mexico City, Mexico to the U.S. in 2001.
|Positive results are reached through parenting education and family support provided by Parents as Teachers
Instead of wallowing in regret that she missed Manuel’s big day, Pardo took action. She enrolled in the Parents Are Teachers (PAT) program, which provides parents with lessons adapted to their literacy and life needs. They set goals and, equally important, learn how to help their children bloom in their studies.
Marilyn Castillo, a recently retired North Godwin English Language Learner teacher who connected Pardo with PAT, said she was a very eager to learn and to be involved.
“(Pardo) took classes on her own,” Castillo said. “She would take books home and would be very involved and very determined to learn for herself and for her children, making sure they had good grades and that they did their homework. She was always there with her husband with school activities.”
A Motivating Force
Pardo said PAT served as a primary motivator to learn English and to teach her children how to excel in school, finish their homework on time — even when they didn’t feel like it — and how to behave.
PAT was a good fit, she said, because she thinks it’s important for parents to walk the talk with their children.
“For me, a lot of people spend all their time working and not spending time teaching their children. Children need guidance. I am the teacher in my house. They learn from me.”
Mom Succeeds, Kids Succeed
Pardo now expects the same from her three younger children, all of whom are students in the Godwin Heights district: third-grader Evan; Naomie, who will be in kindergarten starting this fall and Dayron, a high school junior.
Manuel spent two years attending the automotive maintenance program at Kent Career Tech Center, and currently is a student in the automotive department at Grand Rapids Community College.
Her daughter Stephania just graduated from Godwin Heights High School and was awarded a $50,000 scholarship and $4,000 in grants toward her education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where she has her eye on majoring in psychology or sociology.
Stephania said she learned from her mother to embrace academics. That’s why in her junior year in high school she dual enrolled at GRCC and studied Chinese. In her senior year, she enrolled in two GRCC English classes, as well as criminal justice and psychology. She also was in the National Honor Society.
“She’s always been there, telling us to do our homework,” Stephania said. “I learned from that. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to make her proud.”
Pardo is now a mainstay at North Godwin, Castillo said, volunteering to help students with their reading and math skills and chaperoning on field trips.
“Learning is very important to her,” Castillo said. “She’s someone who is searching and seeking knowledge.”
Pardo said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We say children are our future, but if we’re not doing anything, how serious are we in that belief? I built a relationship with all my children’s teachers. They are my friends. I’ve received a lot of help from them.”