Juntos: Our Stories with Irma Valerio
Irma Valerio “Juntos mom” and facilitator
My son was a sophomore and my oldest daughter a freshman back when we started Juntos. Before starting the program, I didn’t know what to expect from my kids’ high school. And I didn’t know enough to really talk with my kids about their classes, their schedules, testing, or anything. My husband also didn’t really talk to them about school.
Doing Juntos was like getting the key to open a locked door. After our first Juntos session, we became closer as a family. My husband talks so much more with our kids about their education. A big reason was that it was in Spanish which is more convenient for us parents.
A great benefit was to learn about the college financing. We know about all different types of programs, scholarships, and grants; really there are so many options we never would have heard about or thought to ask. Also, it has created leadership opportunities for my kids: they visit colleges, they attend camps and workshops, they help organize new sessions, and they get volunteer hours.
Personally, as their mom, it has made a big change in my life too. At first, I was just curious if this could really help my kids. Then I was asked to be a volunteer, and I was nervous, but I tried to help out. Then they asked me to be a facilitator! This has given me more chances to speak in English, in public! So I am still nervous, but I am coming out of my shell, working with family and community members, and improving my own bilingual skills. I’ve even started working as an educational assistant at the high school, and I’m taking early childhood education classes.
Juntos is great for students, yes, but really it is the WHOLE family, together, that benefits. “Juntos.”
Photo: Alejandrina Olivas