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VALLEY FOCUS | Van Nuys

School Board Honors Valerio Parent Center

September 30, 1998|SUE FOX

Every morning after they drop their children off at Valerio Street Elementary School, about 60 parents head to class themselves.

They are studying English as a Second Language, one of many classes offered by the school's parent center. The center was honored Tuesday as a model of parent involvement by the Board of Education of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Each month, board members recognize programs in their districts that they believe are particularly successful, LAUSD spokeswoman Socorro Serrano said. Julie Korenstein, a board member who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley, chose to honor the Valerio parent center.

Anais Ruiz, Valerio's principal, said one of the center's purposes is to nurture leadership skills in parents. She said she has watched these skills blossom in two mothers who direct the 6-year-old center, Ana Maria Hueso and Socorro Arroyo.

"When they first started, they felt they weren't able . . . to speak in front of their peers," Ruiz said.

But the women took classes at the center, including a 10-week Latinas Leadership Program last year, and now they regularly give presentations on literacy at the cluster and district levels, Ruiz said.

The number of parent centers, which offer adult education classes and programs to help parents get involved in their children's schoolwork, is growing across the district. About 90 new sites opened during the past school year, Serrano said, and nearly half the 668 schools now have parent centers.

The Valerio program stands out because it is so responsive to parent needs, Serrano said. "They provide child care to over 40 babies so parents can attend classes."

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