Every year, nearly 300 students in the Santa Clara Unified School District migrate to other parts of the country during their summer or winter break. These students, nearly all of which are from immigrant families, often spend their summers working in the blistering sun, picking the food we enjoy throughout the year. Students who migrate qualify for SCUSD’s Migrant Education Program.
“The Migrant Program is a program that helps families who have worked in the fields in the last three years,” said Migrant Program Assistant Beatrice Martinez. “So, we have a lot of families that usually go during the summer or winter break to go pick strawberries from Gilroy to as far as Washington State…[The parents] try to keep their kids in school during the school year, but sometimes they have to leave. What we do is supplement services that the schools do not have – like [the schools] don’t have summer school anymore so the Migrant Program will hold summer school for the migrant students only.”
The program helps students and encourages their families to get more involved. “I think this program helps a lot especially when you don’t have the money for tutoring,” said Cristina Valle, parent of two students in SCUSD and president of the program. “They have a lot of programs that you can go to and get help from. It means a lot, I think, to all the people who work in the fields.”
Each meeting tackles a topic to help the parents better understand and help their children. In the past, topics have included high school credits, Internet safety, stress management and nutrition. At the group’s most recent meeting on September 26, the speaker was Francisco Jimenez, a professor of Spanish, modern languages and literatures at Santa Clara University.
Jimenez, speaking in Spanish, explained how he was brought up in a migrant family and spent his summers working in the fields. He told the parents to never give up on their students and to always have strength and faith in them. He commended the parents for supporting their kids and reminded them how important it was for them to continue supporting their students. After Jimenez finished speaking, each family received a signed copy of one of the many books he has written about growing up in a migrant household.
In addition to a signed copy of Jimenez’s book, each student was received four new books – made possible by a grant the Santa Clara Library received for the Summer Reading Program.
“I think this program helps us become more involved in the community and the schools and to try to help kids reach their dream of going to a university,” said Valle. “You want the best for your kids so you have to help them.”
Visit www.santaclarausd.org or contact Maria Elena Calonje, program specialist for the Bilingual and Migrant Education Programs at (408) 243-2238 for additional information.