From Parent: YES Prep Provides Incredible Support for Student with Autism

Parent panelThe following post is adapted from a speech delivered at YES Prep Kickoff 2017 to 1,400 YES Prep teachers and staff members. Guest writer, Hilda Centeno, is Parent Leader at YES Prep Gulfton. After the introduction below, Centeno participated in a parent panel.

Good morning everyone! I am sorry because my English is not perfect.  My name is Hilda Centeno and I am one of the Parent Leaders at YES Prep Gulfton. I am a proud mother of three students there– Ozkar is in 12th grade and will graduate next year in June; Mariel is in 9th grade, and Kamila is in 6th grade.

As a Parent Leader, I help with organizing activities for our campus community. I work with our Community Engagement team and other Gulfton staff to build relationships with all of our families.

I want to talk to you today about the impact that YES Prep has had on my family.

Ozkar was diagnosed in first grade with Asperger’s syndrome. I was worried about what his options would be for middle school. I saw an advertisement for YES Prep Gulfton in a newspaper. The school was about to open in a new location. I wondered if this would be a good option for my son. I consulted the Special Education teacher at his elementary school and she told me that only Pin Oak Middle School would be able to meet his special needs. I applied to the YES Prep lottery anyway and Ozkar got a seat. A few weeks later, I went to registration at Gulfton and was welcomed by a very nurturing staff. It felt like we were being treated like family members.

I was a bit worried because the staff seemed so young and I know how demanding autism can be. They erased my fears because they were always communicating with me, answering my questions, and treating Ozkar with dignity. They always find a way to push Ozkar to grow and now he is a senior about to graduate high school. I have not regretted my decision since that day at registration.

We must continue to work as a team. Teachers are important role models for our students, just like we, their parents are. It is important for you to keep pushing our students past the limits they think they have so that they can realize their dreams and true potential.

Now, I’m going to ask my fellow Parent Leaders to join me on stage. Not all of us could be here today in person but we are your partners for our children every day.

I’d like to introduce our Parent Leaders in attendance:

1)    Leticia Flucas-Howard representing White Oak

2)    Elizabeth Peña representing Fifth Ward

3)    Marylou Ramirez representing West

4)    Irma Perez representing Fifth Ward

You can hear more from some of our amazing Parent Leaders at the Parent Panel session this afternoon.

We are excited to partner with you again this year! Please notify your School Director if you know a family member who would make a great Parent Leader and encourage all families to participate in the family programming at your campus. Thank you for all you do! Special shout out to the teachers at YES Prep Gulfton, especially to the Special Education team!

Watch Hilda’s speech (minute 18:00).


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