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Hispanic Parent Academy helps parents become familiar with school system operations

November 27, 2011|By MEGAN MOWEN | megan.mowen@herald-mail.com
  • Sila Alegret-Bartel, founder and president of ICTM, said the overall response from parents and the community has been "very positive."
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Washington County Public Schools, in partnership with International Corporate Training and Marketing (ICTM), is offering the Hispanic Parent Academy for the second school year.

The goal of the Hispanic Parent Academy is to provide information about the school system to parents of Hispanic children. With classroom-setting sessions conducted by ICTM, parents can become familiar with the educational expectations for their children and how to help them from home.

Paula Moore, supervisor of English Language Learning and World Languages for the school system, initiated the partnership after seeing a need for parents to become more aware of details of their children’s education and the school system.
Different cultures have different views of how the school system should work, Moore said.       

“This program helps parents adapt to our school system and teaches them the best ways to help their child succeed,” she said.
 
In addition to the academy, ICTM, with offices in Hagerstown and Chambersburg, Pa., provides translation and interpretation services, professional bilingual training, and Hispanic marketing and outreach.

Sila Alegret-Bartel, founder and president of ICTM, said the overall response from parents and the community has been “very positive.”

This year, about 20 families representing about seven countries are registered in the academy, she said.

Javier Tellez of Hagerstown moved to the United States in 2008 from Mexico. He has two daughters and one son in the school system.

“When I heard about the academy, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about the school system my children are in,” he said.

As a result, “I know more information and the expectation for my kids,” he said. “I also learned about the programs available for my kids, like the magnet program.”

Tellez said ICTM makes the atmosphere comfortable for parents to learn and understand the school system.

The sessions are held in Spanish, but ICTM offers assistance in interpretation and translation in 12 languages, including Chinese, French, French Creole, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese.

Moore and Alegret-Bartel have created a list of topics to cover at each of the eight sessions in the course.

The purpose of the first session is to make the parents comfortable and let them know that their culture is important, Moore said.

“Just because they are in the U.S. doesn’t mean they have to give up who they are,” she said.

Other topics include the school system’s attendance policies, report cards, student service hours and inclement weather policies.

“Most of the parents have never seen snow, much less know what to do when school is canceled or delayed,” Moore said.

Two sessions are dedicated to showing parents how to help their children with reading and math homework, said Alegret-Bartel.

Speakers explain to parents the process of applying to colleges and how credits and classes work.

“Most of the students are first-generation college students so parents have no idea what to expect,” she said.

Another topic is Internet security and bullying.

ICTM also helps with parent-teacher conferences if an interpretor is needed to translate or explain important documents.

The two-hour monthly sessions are held in the Technical Innovation Center at Hagerstown Community College on Saturday mornings. Childcare is provided and ICTM provides light refreshments.

Funding for the program comes from state and federal grants, so the parents can attend at no charge, Moore said.  

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Information about the Hispanic Parent Academy can be found at www.ictmllc.com/academy.html.

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