Elizabeth Peña is the mother of a YES Prep Southeast alumnus and a current junior at YES Prep Fifth Ward. She is also a member of Fifth Ward’s Teacher Family Association and the Fifth Ward parent representative on the YES Prep Parent Council. Below, she offers advice for parents and teachers as students return to school.
For parents new to YES Prep:
- Focus on a daily talk with your kids and pay close attention to any changes you see. YES Prep is very challenging for a lot of students. It’s often more homework than they’re used to, and for my kids, it was a struggle to get used to the projects and managing their time.
- Talk to other parents at your campus. Sometimes, your student may not tell you something that is going on with her, but another student has told his/her parent. Sometimes, the other parents’ kids have the same needs and struggles. If you talk to each other, you will be able to help your children.
- Write a letter to your student’s teachers. You know your student best and you can tell the teacher what worries you or what to watch out for. That way, the teacher can let you know if something is going on. Good communication and relationships with the teachers are important. If your student needs help, don’t wait until the last minute. Schedule a conference and go talk to the teacher. It has always worked with me and my kids.
- Join your campus’s parent groups. You’ll get to know the teachers and administrators at your campus, so that they reach out to you when your student needs help. You’ll also help raise funds and host fun activities for your campus.
For parents whose students are applying for college:
- Apply to all scholarships available. Help your student gather the necessary financial paperwork for scholarship applications.
- Help students build resumes and letters of recommendation.
- Encourage your student to participate in summer programs so that they get used to being away from home and can explore other areas of interest.
- Make sure your student maintains a strong GPA because that will determine which colleges they can attend.
- Build a relationship with the counselor because they will be able to help you and your student as you’re applying and making decisions.
- Attend community or campus events where they teach you about financial information, DACA, GPAs, application standards, and more. Read your campus’s parent notes to see what is being offered.
- Follow and enforce the student code of conduct. It makes a more productive learning environment for all the kids.
- Focus on quiet students who may be shy to participate. Find ways to make it fun for them.
- Build structure and have a way to bring back the class’s attention.
- Teach students to respect each other and not just you.