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Parents and guardians are unquestionably a child’s strongest allies on the path to college. They are champions, advocates, and also teachers.

In acknowledgment of this full-time, year-round work, National Parents as Teachers Day (Sunday, November 8) encourages parents, schools, and community organizations to join forces to support children in their education journey.

Mission Graduates believes in engaging the entire family on the path to college, ensuring that parents and guardians can be effective academic partners and advocates in their children’s education.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new obstacles. Families face challenges ranging from job loss, health concerns, food and housing insecurity, and now also discovering how to support their children in distance learning. Communities of color, low-income households, and immigrant communities have been disproportionately affected.

Mission Graduates’ Parent Partner Program helps connect parents, schools, and community organizations. Our Promotoras and Parent Engagement Coordinators – the people at the heart of this program – ensure that each party can identify and access the resources in English and Spanish to successfully support low-income, Latinx, Black, and immigrant youth in San Francisco. And we’re proud of the work that they’re doing to make this happen.

Maria Rocha and Adrianna Johnson embody the intrepid and empathetic spirit of the Parent Partner Program. They combine on-the-ground outreach to families in San Francisco with strategic advocacy for the needs and interests of parents and students alike.

Maria, a Promotora and the Assistant Director of the Parent Partner Program, works primarily with the Latinx community. She remarks that language barriers and a lack of prior knowledge about technology have made the transition from in-person learning to remote learning particularly difficult for families.

Promotoras and Parent Engagement Coordinators are working as an agile team to alleviate these barriers by providing parents with the necessary tools to better help their children succeed through Facebook Live video streams and school meetings. Families are now learning to manage a host of different technology platforms, like Zoom and ParentVue, to support distance learning initiatives.

Of her own work, Adriana says, “Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been connecting with families to provide them with support with how to navigate online school platforms. I’ve also attended monthly African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) meetings to hear parents to discuss the pros and cons of Distance Learning.”

After receiving insights from parents, Adriana takes their feedback to school administrators, encouraging teachers and staff to adapt their curriculum and schedules to be as supportive of their students and their families as they can be. She adds, “It allows parents to be even more engaged in their children’s education and creates strong relationships with their child’s teacher.”

Adrianna Johnson, Parent Engagement Coordinator

Parent leaders, like Maria, Adriana, and her colleagues in the Parent Partner Program, are creating a sustainable network of engaged families within San Francisco schools. Our Promotoras and Parent Engagement Coordinators provide culturally-relevant tools and resources through peer-led workshops; parents provide the network and enthusiasm to ensure their student’s academic success at school, in the home, and in the community.

“Despite the many obstacles they face, these parents lead by example and show their children that regardless of any adversities they may face, they are resilient, creative, loving, and have supportive families,” says Maria. “Their life experiences and big hearts drive them to continue to thrive. Sunday is parents’ special day – I want to honor them.”

If you’re a parent or guardian, educator, or community member, you too can observe Parents as Teachers Day by: 

  1. attending a Facebook Live virtual workshop in English or in Spanish with Mission Graduates’ Parent Partner Program;
  2. learning more about volunteering with Mission Graduates by attending a Volunteer Open House (the next one will be December 1) to support students in their college journey and improve education in your community; 
  3. fostering strong relationships with school leadership and presenting solutions to challenges that children face to their academic success;
  4. accessing free Parent Resources in English and Spanish from the Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc.
  5. and simply, taking some time to teach someone something new.

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