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Program Helps Keep Students Motivated

November 21, 1998|TONY LYSTRA

Jose Ireta still believes in the American dream.

Unfortunately, as director of Moorpark Unified School District's Project Pride, Ireta sees too many troubled students for whom the idea of going on to college, a good job and a home of their own seems out of reach.

"There's not a lot of hope to carry out the American dream anymore," he said, adding that some students wonder, " 'If my mom and dad couldn't do it, how could I?' And for students who are too far behind in school, the attitude becomes, 'Why bother?' "

District statistics from earlier this month show that more than 10% of Moorpark High School students had missed at least three classes, Ireta said.

Project Pride is a 6-year-old program designed to assist students who are behind in their courses, unmotivated or looking for a way out of school.

Ireta, 32, runs an after-school tutoring program that meets at Chaparral Middle School.

And he works closely with sheriff's deputies in Moorpark and on city programs to stop kids from getting involved in gangs and to give them a chance to become involved in community activities.

Ireta shows up on your doorstep if your child is regularly absent from school.

He is the one who finds students tutors when they struggle with their classes. He also mingles with students during lunch, befriending them, hoping to gain a little trust.

"The kids can trust him," said Susie Mays, a bilingual counselor at Moorpark High who works with the school's English Language Development program. She said she considers Ireta her "right hand."

Of the five directors who have run Project Pride since it began, Ireta's specialty has been getting students to think about going to college, said Frank DePasquale, Moorpark Unified's assistant superintendent of instruction.

"Jose . . . is a very energetic person and a very excellent role model for our kids," DePasquale said.

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