AISD Launches Innovative English Language Learning and Integration Program for Spanish-Speaking Parents
Austin, TX—Austin Independent School District and the Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) Foundation plan to enroll 1,750 Spanish-speaking parents to the Maestro en casa (“teacher at home”) English-language immersion and immigrant integration program this school semester. The home study, life skills program is aimed at helping AISD parents with basic English language vocabulary and also improving the family’s understanding of the public education system in Austin.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this innovative integration program to our parents in Austin,” said Alex Sánchez, director of public relations and multicultural outreach for AISD. “As a department, we are committed to student success by improving parental engagement, especially with communities where language, poverty and cultural gaps are barriers to effective participation in our schools.”
The Department of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach is charged with executing linguistically and culturally effective communication campaigns and also improving community and family engagement throughout the district. In AISD, three out of five students are Hispanic (60 percent) and at least 24,000 students speak Spanish at home. The Maestro en casa program was launched during the sixth annual Feria Para Aprender, the largest Spanish-language education fair in Austin, where more than 10,000 parents and children attended. About 800 parents are registered to date.
“Parental engagement in schools is key to the success of our students,” Aracely Garcia Granados, executive director of the MATT Foundation said. “This program is a tool that will help immigrant parents better understand how to navigate systems, like public education.”
Maestro en casa lessons focus on common American systems, including public education, healthcare, finance, workplace and citizenship. Participants receive a total of six workbooks and a CD with pre-recorded lessons. The parent will listen to the 30 minute lessons three times per week in the comfort of their own home and at their own pace. Once the participants complete the program and pass an exam, AISD and the MATT Foundation will award a recognition certificate at a graduation ceremony, which is scheduled in June.
The district is working directly with schools and area non-profits to enroll parents in the program. The goal is to enroll 1,000 parents by February 17.
“LULAC and others have been asking the school district for better outreach and more collaborative efforts to establish more parental engagement opportunities,” Gavino Fernandez, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) district 12 director said. “We look forward to working with the district to promote programs like Maestro en casa to our families.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.mattmaestroencasa.org.
For more information, please contact the Department of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach at 512-414-2414.