MERCEDES — Maribel Hernandez walked proudly across the stage wearing her cap and gown to receive her graduation certificate from the superintendent.
She was one of 35 parents who completed the Parent Academy of Success of Schools Academy.
Her children were in the audience cheering her on and smiling with happiness every step of the way.
“I’m happy that she graduated,” said Maria Bueno, Hernadez’s daughter. “She has never graduated from anything before and it is an accomplishment for her.”
Bueno, 18, is on schedule to be the first high school graduate in her family.
She said she is considering going into the military or college after high school.
And she believes the training her mother received from the PASOS Academy is going to benefit her even as a college student and will help her brothers and sisters through school.
Bueno said she noticed a change in her mother’s character after every Saturday training session she attended.
She would go to class and learn instead of just staying at home.
“Now she tells us to strive for the best and never think you can’t accomplish anything,” Bueno said about her mother. “My mom says if I can do it and I’m older already, then you can do it because you’re young with more opportunities.”
This year’s ceremony marks Mercedes Independent School District’s third PASOS graduating class aimed at helping the district’s students achieve educational success by making available parental engagement training.
For 10 weeks, 35 Mercedes parents met on Saturday mornings to learn strategies to help educate, motivate and prepare their children for success in school.
The district partnered with the Texas Valley Communities Foundation, a Mercedes nonprofit focused on empowering the Valley with its PASOS Parent Academy, a program the nonprofit offers using a number of proven academic success tools.
“Research shows that the most successful schools are those that partner with parents and share the responsibility of student education,” said Dr. Roland Arriola, president of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation. “PASOS informs parents about the workings of the school district and provides them with the skills they need to best support their child’s education.”
Arriola said the parent graduation is a celebration that is typically very powerful to parents who may not have a formal education, and is an opportunity for children to see their parents as graduates themselves.
“We are very proud of this program,” said Daniel Trevino, MISD superintendent. “Mercedes Independent School District was the first school district in the state to initiate this particular type of parental involvement program.”
He said parental involvement not only focuses on the parents but on the whole household.
Trevino said it was moving for elementary and high school students to see their parents go through the program.
“It is a huge sacrifice of Saturdays for 10 weeks straight,” Trevino said. “Parents are making the sacrifice to better themselves as a family and household.”
PASOS participant Melinda Del Angel said the program helped her become a better mother and the training is going to help her children’s future.
“I am better prepared now to contact and communicate with my children’s teachers,” De Angel said of the PASOS Program. “And just like my children saw me graduate I want to see them graduate in the future.”