SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. — There are countless people involved in a child's education. One of the most important is that of the parent. But for some, these days can be especially challenging.
Now, a program in South Sioux City is working to help parents find their voices.
Nearly 52% of the South Sioux City community speaks a language other than English, according to census.gov.
For parents needing to advocate for their child in school or help them with homework, that language barrier can be challenging.
What we are trying to teach them is to advocate for themselves and for their kids and through this program, they are really doing that.Lewis and Clark Elementary has a Literacy Program for parents that helps them navigate their child's schooling and better their own education along the way, offering classes that help them learn English, assistance applying for citizenship, college courses and more.
This program is part of a three-year grant from the Nebraska Department of Education.
"What we are trying to do is teach parents how we do things in the classroom so that they can take that home and continue to be teaching their kids," said Lewis and Clark Principal Ben Schultz. "These are parents who maybe have never said anything before but now they are calling a meeting with the principal because they were concerned with something they saw in the classroom or they had questions."
The kids are benefitting, too. With the program in its second year, the school is seeing improvements from those students whose parents are involved in the program.
"Attendance is better for their kids coming to school because they see their parents take more interest in their education and their grades are getting better," Schultz said.
The program has one more year under the grant, but Schultz hopes to see it continue with funding from other sources and the district hopes to expand it to other schools and more parents.
With COVID-19 and new district guidelines, they couldn't hold the program within the school, which led to a partnership with the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA. The partnership has benefitted both the school and the local non-profit.
"We are very excited to be a part of it," said Kelli Horton, the Members Services Director with the Y.
"We believe it's very beneficial to our community. And we are able to offer all of the participants a membership and safe child care for their children while they are here."
For Schultz, this program has made everyone involved better.
"We just have success stories one after another and it's really rewarding as an educator to see not only the kids succeeding but also the parents," he said.
Schultz says they have three parents in their program who are working to get their citizenship. Currently, the program is at capacity, but the district is hoping to expand it to more parents in the future.
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CORRECTIONVILLE, Iowa — East of Sioux City off of Highway 20 sits the town of Correctionville.
It's here where one of Siouxland's most popular food trucks calls home.
Heartland Coffee and Nosh fired up their espresso machine in 2017 and have grown into an area favorite. They had big plans for 2020 and then COVID-19 hit.
When we started, we didn't know what was going to happen. We had events that just kept canceling, one by one. Like many small businesses in Siouxland, they weren't sure what the season would hold.
We did open in April though and we were hit with a mass of people that were ready to come out of their homes and try something different," said owner Stacy Orndorff.
The Coffee and Nosh team adjusted their plans, ramped up mobile ordering and ready to go drinks to make the 2020 season the best it could be.
"18% of our business was online sales but we really pushed that and people really responded," Orndorff said. "Having all of the take-out elements, where before we didn't really have to have things covered or wrapped, and now we did and then having our system of people order from the window but also ordering online and how to juggle all of that and then having the delivery piece in."
Siouxlanders embraced the changes, waiting in socially distanced lines and supported this family-run business all summer long.
"They really came out to support us, especially in the beginning. They were eager to help any way they could," Orndorff said, recalling long lines and orders at the truck. "We got a lot of empathy and compassion from people and I feel like our sales went up just because people recognized the importance of supporting small businesses."
And while cold weather cut their season a bit short, they have a few more tricks up their sleeves.
'We have our ready to drink beverages that we are selling right now, our lavender lemonades, our lattes, we are putting them in bottles. We are going to start serving our full menu on Saturdays out of our headquarters in Correctionville."
They also have big plans for the future
"Well Coffee and Nosh, we are going to get another truck. I don't know when it will be done and ready," she said. A 2nd food truck would allow them to expand to other communities, and make more stops at the popular Farmer's Market in Sioux City.
"In Correctionville, we bought a building in our downtown and we are fixing up a kitchen there and we will be moving our headquarters there because right now our headquarters is actually part of our home. We will have a kitchen that we will be able to use for our stuff and also be able to rent out so other people can share that space."
After a year full of changes and adjustments, the family behind Heartland Coffee and Nosh is grateful for the family they've made all across Siouxland.
And entrepreneurship runs in the family, Stacy's daughter has started her own clothing businesses, which you can find here, and her cousin Sarah, who is a familiar face in the truck, launched her own food business this week called Wanderer Eats, and you can see her full menu and how to order here.
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