When the bell rings at Gateway Elementary School in South Omaha, Principal Terry Burton welcomes parents to class along with their children. Gateway is the first elementary school in the Omaha metro to offer a Family Learing program for parents. The school staff is working with the Learning Community team to adapt the program for a school community.
More than half of the 900 children here at Gateway are learning to speak English. Eight out of ten come from lower income families who qualify for free or reduced price lunch. That makes Gateway a typical school community in the Omaha metro, where immigrant families need English speaking skills and a better understanding of how our school systems work.
Walk through Gateway's front door and the parent classroom is the first one you'll see. Their common goal is to make sure their children succeed in school. "These parents are here for class two to three days a week so that they can help their children get the best education possible,” Burton says. “I see them as leaders who send a positive message to get involved.”
Classes are designed to help parents get connected right away and learn the English skills they need to talk with teachers. Gateway also offers a family-friendly collection of bilingual materials for every reading level.
Gateway Program Features:
Parents in the program have navigators to help them practice new skills at home. Classes stress the importance of reading together as a family every day. A bilingual liaison works with parents to make them feel welcome in the school library. Parents completing the two-year program gain confidence in their English speaking skills and ability to set high educational expectations for their children.
Instructors focus on the English that's most important to the parent's role in their child's education.
Educational Navigators follow parents' progress and help them integrate new skills into everyday life.
Family setbacks can interfere with learning. That’s why family liaisons are specially trained to step in and help the whole family.
Every parent wants their kids to achieve. These programs are getting results, but sometimes it’s better to hear from families. MORE