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Program Offers How To For Higher Learning
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Instructor Maria Gomez talks to a group of parents at the Oakdale High School library on Feb. 16 as part of the Parent Institute for Quality Education nine-week program. It covers the various high school requirements and the importance of courses and grades needed in order for their teenage children to attend college. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

In an effort to further engage Spanish-speaking parents of Oakdale High School students in their children’s education, with an emphasis on helping their children to achieve a post-secondary education, a nine-week program called Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) is being offered to facilitate the goal.
PIQE is a non-profit organization that has offices throughout the state and works to enhance the education of students. It offers free classes for parents, usually paid for through Title I funding, so that they may learn more about the educational system, offer more support to their children with schoolwork and encourage them to pursue a college education.
Classes started locally in January, consisting of several workshops taught in Spanish one night a week for OHS parents at the high school’s library. OHS Vice Principal Mike Tambini said that he wanted to bring the program to Oakdale to serve the Spanish-speaking families. He added that the funding for the program comes out of the district’s budget for English learners.
“The attendance has far exceeded the expectations,” Tambini said.
The local PIQE classes started out with 21 people the first night, then grew to 45 for the next class meeting, and was 35 at the third meeting, he said with the belief that word-of-mouth helped. To further support attendance, Tambini reported that childcare is offered for those families in another room on campus as well as a small meal.
The parents who successfully complete the program go through a graduation ceremony in March and will receive a College Admissions Certificate from the California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed that states their children will be conditionally admitted to one of the CSU campuses upon high school graduation and meeting the CSU admissions requirements. Tambini added that a $500 scholarship is also available.
Isela Gutierrez, Associate Director of PIQE’s Modesto office, said that the program caters to the school’s needs and that in many other schools they serve, it is open to everyone and they try to address everyone about what’s needed for students to reach their academic potential.
PIQE offers the program in 16 different languages, with English and Spanish being the most common, and it provides options to choose from that cover pre-kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, or high school. However, Gutierrez noted that Oakdale asked PIQE to come to the high school to give extra support specifically to the ELD (English Language Development) families.
“It’s a really nice program…each week we have different topics,” Gutierrez reported.
She added that the workshops help inform parents on how the school system functions.
“Our mission is to connect with parents so they can work hand-by-hand with the school,” she said. “We’re telling parents exactly what classes (their children) need to take.”
She said that a pillar of the PIQE program is for parents and children to take the first step and make the decision for the kids to attend college.
“If they don’t have that decision, then it’s open,” she said.
She added that without the decision early on, by the time students are nearing graduation, they may not have taken the right classes needed to move ahead with their education.
She said that they teach parents how they can get help with getting their students on the right educational track to attend college, perhaps with after-school or other community programs, if needed. She said they also give parents specifics on what they can do to motivate their students. Additionally, it’s important for students to love themselves, Gutierrez said, and have discipline, too.
“Usually, a student with good self-esteem will have good grades and it feeds itself,” she noted, explaining that the good grades also help them to feel good about themselves.
Gutierrez said that the program also covers information about universities and obtaining financial aid such as grants, scholarships, and loans.
Six primary topics are covered to help parents – in addition to the topics Gutierrez mentioned, others include identifying the classes that make up part of the high school “A-G” requirements, understanding the importance of grade point averages (GPA), and reviewing other important requirements.
For more information about the PIQE program, go to the website or contact the Modesto office at (209) 238-9496.