Assistant Professor of Education Adonay Montes helped lead the Migrant Education Summer Institute, a one-month program that helps develop English-speaking skills for children of migrant workers, over the summer.
The program began as a partnership with the Imperial County Office of Education to host the program on the University of La Verne campus for one month.
“This is a one month institute, where approximately 50 children of migrant workers live on campus for that one month,” Montes said.
“They get to test college for a month.”
“Within this month, we plan a whole lot of activities using three domains – academic, personal/social, and the vocational/career domain. Those three domains are really the cornerstones of our counseling national model.”
One outing for the students was being taken to the La Verne Fire Department for a presentation on what training and schooling they had received to prepare them for their current positions and explain how long it took them to get where they are today.
The students preparing to take the California High School Exit Exam come from eight different high schools in the Imperial Valley school district and have been in the country for less than three years, Montes said.
The academic component is based on CAHSEE preparation. Students attend two blocks of CAHSEE prep for language arts and math to gain the skills need to pass the test, while also learning the English language.
Being new to the country, the tenth graders were still learning English.
“We try to provide for students, in one month, a lot of what they will need in school,” Montes said.
“High school students are supposed to be visiting their counselors for guidance in different educational plans but these students, because of the language barrier, may not be able to get to the counseling office.”
“The program really becomes a combination of academics and counseling,” Montes said.
The staff of the program is made up of University of La Verne graduate students in the school counseling program and from the Spanish bilingual bicultural certificate program.
“For this program to reach the success that it has achieved, you have to have the right mix of individuals with the experience of working with kids, and so I invited those students to be part of the program and they gladly honored the opportunity,” Montes said.
“These students provide the structure of the program, so it is important to have a staff that is sensitive to the needs of the students,” Montes said.
Erick Rodriguez, graduate student in educational counseling, became interested in the program because of his personal experiences as an immigrant student.
“I would like that the Migrant Education program continue to accomplish its goal of addressing the specific needs of migrant students,” Rodriguez said.
Another graduate student in educational counseling, Myra Andrade, also participated in the summer program, quoted author Maya Angelou.
“’All great achievements require time,’” Andrade said.
“What happens is that once you’re given the opportunity, one, it’s something that you’ve earned and two, you find ways to make it,” Montes said.
“You become more resilient and you learn to survive. You learn to use minimal resources and make them stretch so that they work for you.”
Montes wants the program to continue to help students reach their goals, whether at the University or through other colleges.
“I would like for this program to be replicated or to create more access for more kids,” Montes said.
“I’m sure there are kids locally that can benefit from the program. That’d be great.”
The program, which just ended its second year, will continue for a third summer in 2013.
Robert Penalber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.