The church became one of Bentley’s community partners last year, bought Spanish-English dictionaries for the parents along with other supplies, and hired a program coordinator.
After graduating a handful of parents last spring, the class doubled in size this fall.
The parents were eager to help their children, a school official said, and so determined to attend classes that a few even walked to Bentley.
The organizers of Making A Difference learned that many of the adults had little schooling themselves and did not realize the important role parents — and homework — play in a child’s success.
“Some of these parents are new immigrants to this country and aren’t familiar with the educational system,” said the Rev. Renee Wormack-Keels, pastor of First Baptist.
Due to cultural differences, many were hesitant to talk to teachers or to ask questions about how their children were doing, officials said. Some even thought helping their kids at home was “cheating,” Montevecchi said.
“It really was an education for parents to understand that we really want their input and need their support,” she said.
The program stressed the importance of setting up a study area at home, stocking it with supplies, checking on homework assignments and filling out reading logs. It encouraged parents to read with their children — even in Spanish.
“Literacy is literacy,” said Montevecchi.
Parents were told that their efforts can reap benefits for their children.
“One of the things we are seeing,” Wormack-Keels said, “is that when a child has a parent who is engaged and supporting their learning, that child gains more confidence in their own ability.”
Bentley’s efforts to reach out to parents were greatly aided by Angela DeLuca, a bilingual parent liaison who has developed a strong bond with parents and who served as a go-between.