Learning Council Aids In Strengthening Values
Editor’s Note: This weekly column is part of an ongoing series in which various residents of the community share their United Way story and how United Way has personally impacted them.
Can you imagine being 15 and pregnant? Still a child yourself, in 10th grade, with a lot of instability in your life.
You might live with your mother one week or your grandma the next. Who knows where your father is. There are many younger siblings in your house so you help care for them. You’ve had to change schools eight times so there is no consistency in your education.
Attendance at school has never been a priority so the grades you do have are poor. You suffer from a poor body-image and a lack of self-confidence. Friends are hard to keep since life has been so chaotic, but then you meet a boy who is the same age as you and you kinda like him. Next thing you know — you’re having a baby.
What do you do? Continue with school? Heck no! Who can attend school and carry a baby? How much stress can one person take? Might as well quit school.
This is where JCLC and TEAM enters the picture of this real life story. Our soon-to-be mom was ready to call it quits from JHS until our JCLC parent educator, along with TEAM, went to talk to her and explained the benefits of staying in school, not only for her but her baby too. Mom agreed to give TEAM and school a try and signed on with the Parents As Teachers program. This was a huge step in the right direction.
The parent educator, along with TEAM, worked intensely on helping Mom to gain a positive self body image and confidence in herself.
The parent educator worked weekly with Mom and Dad on PAT activities and home visits, and they attended monthly afterschool PAT parenting groups with other fathers and mothers enrolled in the program. Mom and Dad participated in all of the activities and did follow up activities with the baby at home. Mom also received daily parenting classes through Parents as Teachers and TEAM.
The JCLC parent educator worked with Mom and Dad on healthy relationships and family well-being plus goal setting in regards to parenting, education, and vocations. In addition, she brought both parents to JBC and JCC for tours and to talk with administration about options and careers. Mom and Dad both chose their career fields and became excited about their future plans and goals.
Dad got a part time job working in a nursing home during his junior and senior year of high school while attending BOCES for culinary. He worked hard to keep all of his grades up and with encouragement from the parent educator, he went for tutoring to get extra help. The parent educator supported Mom’s quest to find a job by helping her to make a resume and worked with her on professional and interviewing skills. And guess what? She got a job in her senior year at a nursing home.
The parent educator spent time working on the importance of good attendance which inspired Mom to improve her attitude toward school and allowed her to see the value of attending daily. During her two years at TEAM through graduation, she had almost perfect attendance and graduated with an A average.
Currently, Mom and Dad have an apartment together without any government assistance and are engaged to be married when they are finished with college. They both work full-time, attend JBC full time, and are doing great. Both Mom and Dad made the President’s List for academics at JBC and are currently linked with another parent educator as they continue on with the Parents As Teachers program with JCLC. This linkage would not be possible without funding from the ESPRI grant which we receive through the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. It is this funding that has allowed JCLC to create a position in which a parent educator can continue working with participants after they graduate. And none of this incredible success story would be achievable without the generous funding from United Way that allows our parent educator to do what she does on a daily basis. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!
Krista Camarata, executive director of the Jamestown Community Learning Council. The goal of JCLC is strengthening the capacity of families to nurture and support their child’s academic development, emotional growth and physical well-being. For more information visit www.jclcprograms.org.