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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