Juan In A Million Helps Promote Family Education with Donation to SSP Learning Center
AUSTIN, TEXAS (August 17, 2016)
Juan In A Million Mexican food restaurant, together with BH4Kids, presented SSP Learning Center with a check of $10,000. The generous donation was a result of proceeds raised from the Hole In Juan Charity Golf Tournament. Each year Juan In A Million puts together the charity golf tournament to give back to the Austin community.
“We are so fortunate to count on support from local businesses like Juan In A Million,” says SSP Learning Center’s Executive Director, Christina Collazo. “When local businesses give back to local organizations, they are making an investment in the future of our community. Their donation helps SSP Learning Center fulfill its mission of building up parents and children together through education and we are truly grateful for their support.”
Juan In A Million owner, Juan Meza, chose SSP Learning Center as the organization to receive the donation when he learned about the impact the Center has on whole families and multiple generations. The local nonprofit provides educational opportunities to more than a hundred low-income individuals every year via English learning services, early childhood education programs, and family support services. Juan In A Million’s contribution will help reduce future education spending by allowing students to leave SSP Learning Center developmentally on target, more confident, and therefore more prepared to integrate into the school system or workforce of Central Texas.
For more information or to support SSP Learning Center, please visit: www.ssplearningcenter.org
About SSP Learning Center:
SSP Learning Center provides non-English speaking families with a nurturing community that delivers English language, parenting and life skills through a two-generation approach. The Center develops adults who are better able to navigate and successfully participate in the central Texas communities where they live and work. The children, one to four year olds, are provided with a foundation that helps ensure their success once they enter school. The families’ form sustaining, long lasting relationships with others through contacts made at the Center. www.ssplearningcenter.org
Claudia Ramirez, Development Director
SSP Learning Center
PBS Kids Raising Readers Library Corner at Si Se Puede Learning Center
Sí Se Puede Learning Center, an organization dedicated to providing a nurturing environment in which young kids and their parents gain the knowledge and skills to succeed, is partnering with KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, to launch the center’s first PBS Kids Raising Readers Library Corner. Located in a corner of the on-site computer lab, the cozy library is stock full of engaging children’s reading and activity books, as well as computer games to foster literacy and learning.
All materials have been donated by KLRU-TV, whose dedication to fostering a love for reading among children comes to life in the materials it publishes and television shows it produces. Christina Collazo, Executive Director at Sí Se Puede, views this commitment as being closely aligned with her organization’s efforts to promote reading and English-language learning in school and at home. “Given that most of our young students don’t speak English at home, we have the opportunity to give children a head-start in the language before they enter kindergarten,” says Collazo. “A library with engaging books in both English and Spanish is a great way to get our kids excited about bilingual reading and learning.”
Benjamin Kramer, Director of Education for KLRU-TV, echoes Ms. Collazo’s enthusiasm. “When centers like Sí Se Puede and initiatives like the Library Corners come together, we create opportunities for young children to develop from their first days as bilingual speakers, readers, and writers, and as sophisticated readers and viewers of television and other media.” Kramer added, “Multilingual literacy and smart viewing practices are great attributes to have, but of course, they need to be nurtured. Here is a shining example of just that.”
Children and parents will be able to spend time together at the library during the center’s “Mommy and Me” time, as well as check out materials to take home. Reading while relaxing on the inviting cushions, surrounded by Dr. Seuss and The Hungry Caterpillar decor, will also serve as an incentive for students to record the number of minutes they spend reading at home. By incorporating the enjoyment of reading into every-day learning, Sí Se Puede hopes to engage young minds in discovering their potential, reaching their goals, and imagining future possibilities.
Sí Se Puede: Spanish-Speaking Kids, Parents Learn English
By Ian Crawford February 28, 2011 (Audio Segment Transcript)
Many children in Austin’s growing Hispanic immigrant community struggle with English as a second language, putting them at a disadvantage when they enter school. One innovative program is looking to not only help those kids, but their parents, as well.
It’s a scene you’ll find in classrooms all across the country: a group of about ten kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and learning U.S. history. But this isn’t your typical classroom.
The class is part of the Si Se Puede Learning Center, a free English as a second language program that has been operated at Cristo Rey Catholic Church for the last two years. All of the kids are pre-schoolers from families where English isn’t spoken at home. And while these kids are in class, they have a parent also studying English right down the hall.
Christina Collazo, Executive Director of the center, said the kids enjoy being in a learning environment with their parents.
“It really cute, because you see a lot of the moms come in with their backpacks and their little ones come in and they have their backpacks with their materials,” Collazo said. “And the mom says OK ‘I’m going off to sit with my teacher now. And the kids, I think they like that their mom has a teacher too, while they’re going to sit with their teachers.”
By inviting mother and child to learn together, Collazo thinks the program solves a big challenge in teaching English to immigrant mothers, who are often too busy taking care of their kids to attend classes.
Christine Johnson, an adult ESL teacher with the program, said having immigrant parents in her class learning English along with their American-born children, makes learning easier for both.
“A lot of them, when we test them, we find out they’ve lived here for 15 years and all of a sudden now their deciding to learn English,” Johnson said. “So that’s really good, I think.”
In fact, many of the students, like Veronica Urtado, were motivated to start taking the classes by their children.
“To speak English has a lot of advantages and when the kids are sick and you go to the hospital and they don’t speak Spanish, well you don’t know how to explain what your kids have that worries you,” Urtado said. “When you go to school and the teachers don’t speak Spanish, it’s also a big problem.”
Urtado looks forward to helping her youngest son with his homework when he gets to kindergarten. But, in fact, she’s already started. They check out English language children’s book to read from the center.
“He likes to read. He will read three or four times in a day,” Urtado said.
Which brings us back to what could be the biggest benefit of the program – providing a solid base of English to non-English speaking children before they enter kindergarten.
“I’ve spoken with teachers of students who completed the program last year and they’ve mentioned to me just how well those students are doing in comparison to their other students who didn’t have any preparation prior to,” Collazo said. “Also, by getting the parents involved at such an early age it helps them stay involved through the course of their education.”
All the classes at the learning center are free. The adult education positions are funded by federal grants to ACC and AISD that Collazo says are secure. The children’s classes rely on private donations but she is worried about the future of the program. Already facing space constraints, Collazo worries that the State of Texas will go ahead with a proposal to cut funding for pre-kindergarten education.
“There will definitely be families looking for something like this. Unfortunately though, a lot of the families who might be looking for something like this are with parents who work during these hours,” Collazo said. “We don’t take kids whose parents are not here. The parent has to be a student or has to serve here as a volunteer.”
Though, if even state-funded pre-K funding is maintained in Texas, the growth of interest in Collazo’s program is pretty much assured. You need only look to Austin’s growing Spanish-speaking population to be certain of that.