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Setting an example - Classes foster college dreams

MUSCOY - For much of her childhood, Dayannara Lopez lived six months of the year in Mexico and the other six in the Stockton area.

The Muscoy resident would just be getting familiar with her teacher, a classroom and her classmates when she would have to move.

So to build a better future for her three boys, Lopez stood in line with other parents at Vermont Elementary School recently to register for a parent university that will soon be offered at the school in Muscoy.

"I had a hard time, so I want to make sure it is better for my sons," said Lopez. "Overall, I just want to be a good mom."

The registration Wednesday launched the Vermont Parent University spearheaded by Principal Elizabeth Atkinson.

The lively event was attended by about 100 parents and their children, teachers, San Bernardino City Unified School District and county officials, and supporters of the new school.

County Supervisor Josie Gonzales described it as a bold and innovative pilot program that she was proud to support wholeheartedly.

"The hard work and leadership of Principal Elizabeth Atkinson and staff are to be applauded," she said.

The university will offer a series of parenting and family-enrichment classes on the first Thursday of every month beginning Aug. 7 and ending May 7.

In a community where the majority of students qualify for free lunch and are English-language learners, the classes are geared toward preparing children for college.

"In a community like ours, preparing for the future does not include going to university. It's just not on the radar," said Atkinson. "So we have created a situation where parents will be modeling for their children how to choose classes, register and participate in those classes every month."

Among the 30 course offerings in the parent university course catalog are tips to support reading in older students, basic math skills, credit card basics and homework strategies.

All classes are free, but parents must register in order to attend.

Free child care for children ages 5 to 11 will be available to participating parents.

Atkinson hopes the parent university, which has received financial support from MBK Homes, and plans to build homes in Muscoy down the road, will start up in other schools in the district as well.

"The sky is the limit here, because we believe regardless of their socioeconomic status, kids deserve to go to college," she said.

Posted on June, 7th 2009

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