With hundreds of family members and friends looking on with pride at Las Vegas Academy’s Lowden Theater, over 120 parents and caregivers successfully graduated from The Public Education Foundation’s Family Learning Program during a completion ceremony on April 23.

Underscoring the importance of the Family Learning Program to the community, many prominent officials were at the celebration to offer their support and words of encouragement:

  • U.S. Congresswoman Dina Titus
  • School Board President Deanna L. Wright
  • School Board Trustees Kevin Child and Dr. Linda E. Young
  • Clark County School District’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Mike Barton and
  • Randy Campanale, a member of The Public Education Foundation’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

The Public Education Foundation’s comprehensive 32-week, multigenerational program enables many of our community’s culturally diverse families to become meaningfully engaged in their children’s learning at home and in school. The program focuses on parents as their child’s first teacher and advocate, family engagement in schools, and language and literacy skill development. Participants also build employability and leadership skills through family service learning.

Some of the family service learning projects included painting a mural about diversity at a school, organizing a food drive to help other parents, putting together a career fair, coordinating a drive to provide supplies for teachers, and volunteering at a local food bank.

The Foundation’s Family Learning Program has grown in the 10 years of its existence to now serve 11 elementary schools: Crestwood, Paul Culley, Howard Hollingsworth, Matt Kelly, J.T. McWilliams, Paradise, Dean Petersen, Sunrise Acres, Gene Ward, Tom Williams and Wendell Williams.

The Public Education Foundation’s Family Learning Program is supported by many donors and partners, including:

  • Engelstad Family Foundation, the major funder of the Family Learning Program
  • Clark County School District
  • Toyota Family Learning, National Center for Families Learning
  • City of Las Vegas
  • College of Southern Nevada
  • Bank of America
  • City of North Las Vegas and
  • Albertsons.

Each participant in the program also received a surprise gift from Discovery Children’s Museum – a complimentary one-year pass to the museum – allowing their families to take advantage of this invaluable learning experience. Albertsons gave each family a cake to take home and enjoy that evening as a celebration of their accomplishments.

Candelario Garcia, a participant in the program whose children attend Paul Culley Elementary School, noted the impact The Public Education Foundation’s Family Learning Program has had on him and the education of his children.

“The program is very good, informative and has helped me shape and be present in my children’s education,” Garcia said. “Thanks to this program, I was able to motivate my children in reading and interact with my children’s teachers.”

Garcia adds that he was better able to speak with his children about topics such as bullying, sex education, student loans and scholarships. “Without a doubt, this program is a great option and my major satisfaction was in seeing my children’s smiles as they saw me participate in their school,” he said.

In comments made following the completion ceremony, Margarita Gamboa, the Principal at Sunrise Acres Elementary School, said The Public Education Foundation’s Family Learning Program has had an impact on all stakeholders, including children, their families and school staff.

“I can really tell the difference between the parents who have attended the program, because they ask more questions about their child’s education and how they can help at home,” Gamboa said.

“The Family Learning Program has empowered our families, which in turn helps our students become more accountable for their education and behavior. Our staff notices positive differences in the children when their family member volunteers in the classroom,” Gamboa added.

Diasonthia Jordan, who participated in the Family Learning Program at Matt Kelly Elementary School, was a speaker during the completion ceremony and told the audience that completing the program was an important milestone.

“This is a major step in the journey of not only our lives, but our children’s lives as well, and one that should be recognized for its immense significance,” she said. “This is an act not only of personal commitment, but also one of pride.”

Jordan said all of the parents worked hard to get to this day, and that their time meant something; they attended the weekly early Wednesday morning sessions at the school, observed their children’s classes, and spent many more hours planning and carrying out three family learning service projects at the school.

“These things will not go to waste because it was our children who saw us getting ready for class every Wednesday morning; it was our children who saw us going into their class participating with other parents during parent time; sitting silently in the back of their classrooms observing them proudly; and it was our children as well as those who weren’t ours who saw our faces constantly during assembly’s and rally’s cheering them on letting them know they can do anything they put their minds to,” Jordan said.

Jordan continued by stressing that “we are our children’s first role models as mothers and fathers. They look to us to do the right thing; to point them in the right direction. The Family Learning Program is so important because we need to take the fundamentals that we learned during these 32 weeks and continue to implement them into our daily lives. Just because the class is over doesn’t mean that our work is over.”