by Sarah Raine Cheney | AmeriCorps VISTA, Team Leader
We are familiar with the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” While it may be cliche, it holds a lot of truth. One of Santa Fe’s strengths as a community is our “village ability”. At Opportunity Santa Fe we see people and organizations coming together across all sectors to support and improve the lives of children.
In 2018, the Anne E. Casey Foundation found that New Mexico ranked 50th in overall child well-being and education. Our state’s ranking low can give a false impression that families aren’t doing their part, but that’s not what we see at Opportunity Santa Fe. The National Education Association and Reform Support Network found through studies that the more family involvement in a child’s school life, the better they perform as an adult.
We asked birth-to-career leaders and Santa Fe families to describe how they see parent and community involvement making a difference in the City Different. Here’s what they said:
Rayna Dineen – Executive Director, Reading Quest All of the children we tutor are making progress, but when a family member helps a child practice their word lists and reads with the child on a regular basis, we see even more progress in a very short period of time. I have been inspired by the mother of one of our students who not only does her best to help her son with reading and homework every day, but she also sits in on his tutoring sessions so that she can learn how to read in English alongside her son. Her son sees how hard she is working to learn English which provides a wonderful incentive for him to also work hard so he can teach his mom and younger siblings too.
Flesché Hesch – Santa Fe Parent Getting to know my children’s teachers and having them understand that we are actively involved in what our kids are learning also puts them on notice that we care, we are watching, and we are focused on helping our children succeed. They thank us for everything we do…all the time which makes us feel appreciated and eager to engage more and more.
Crystal Ybarra – Community Engagement, Santa Fe Public Schools It has been said before, but parents are our children’s first teachers. Their values and traditions are core to our children. A former eighth-grade student was struggling at school. Through a meeting with the principal, other support staff, the parent and the student, his mom mentioned the close connection the student had to his grandfather. She asked grandpa to play more of a mentor-type role. This wraparound support that included strong support in the school, mom’s active role in the student’s life, and the extra support from grandpa, showed the student we had his best interest at heart and truly wanted to see him succeed.
Maya Del Margo – Santa Fe Parent An ideal situation involves a web of support with family members, teachers, neighbors, and friends holding up the corners so the student in the center has a place to grow, learn, struggle and thrive; this type of team can make a lifelong difference. Our school, Francis X. Nava Elementary, supports this by having strong communicating between school and home, and encourages involvement by hosting events during and after school that highlight students’ successes and learning. When I worked with middle and high school students, who are notoriously opposed to spending time with their ‘uncool’ parents, they were unable to hide their pride when parents and other family members showed up to celebrate their achievements.
Miguel Angel Acosta Muñoz, Earth Care It is not just important, it is essential. Without families leading the way, nothing is sustainable in the long run. No matter how collective we intend for our impacts to be, they fall far short of their potential without families to carry them and adopt them.
The winter holidays are a great time to express gratitude, reflect, and to begin anew. Our hope for 2019 is that instead of starting over, our community continues to highlight our success and further expand on what we’ve been doing right. Santa Fe is a community full of families that date back generations, who are always eager and ready to help, an important element we should never overlook. I feel it is safer to say that it doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes a community.