Parents learn to become leaders in community

HARLINGEN — They’re creating tomorrow’s leaders today.

But those future leaders aren’t just students. They’re also the parents.

The school district has created the Aspiring Parent Leaders program, to educate parents about the workings of the school district.

“Our whole purpose is to empower our parents in our district,” said Sylvia Gonzalez, family engagement outreach specialist.

Dalia Garcia, administrator for performance outcomes for the Harlingen school district, is also working with the program.

The first cohort of seven parents kicked off the program in January, Gonzalez said.

“They’re going through some different sessions,” she said. “They’re going through some trainings that we have like customer service, confidentiality. We’re going to do one on Microsoft software. We’re also going to have mock interviews. They’ll be building a portfolio.”

The program benefits not only parents but also the district.

“There’ll be a base of potential parent leaders in our district, parents as partners in education,” Gonzalez said. “Those are the areas we’re looking at, building skills so they can be equipped with the knowledge base to get a better understanding of our district.”

This will empower parents to apply for positions in the district.

“It’s connecting our community and our district to innovative approaches addressing educational needs of our students,” she said.

In order for parents to qualify, they must perform at least 40 volunteer hours, said Erika De La Fuente, a parent who is in the program.

“We’re training on different things, just getting to know the district,” said De La Fuente, 38, who has three sons in Harlingen schools.

“We were just stuck in one school wherever we volunteered,” De La Fuente said. “Now we’re being exposed to different things like registration. I’ve been meeting different people and feeling a little bit more relaxed. It’s a good thing for us.”

Gonzalez said that in August the seven parents will be placed in positions at different campuses to get hands-on training until January. That’s when a second cohort, which begins training in August, will take over.

For more information call Harlingen CISD Parental Involvement, 956-427-3515.