Record Graduation for Parent Mentor Program

By: Ashmar Mandou

In the 19 year history of the Parent Mentor Program, a program founded by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), supporters and elected officials witnessed the largest graduating class of mothers during a ceremony Tuesday morning held at the auditorium of Darwin School in Logan Square.

Principals, teachers, program organizers, and elected officials, such as State Senator Iris Martinez, State Representatives Toni Berrios, Juan Andrade, and Silvana Tabares, attended the graduation to acknowledge the hard work of 582 parents who tutored children daily in 67 schools throughout the state this school year.

The Parent Mentor Program is a partnership between schools and community organizations in low-income neighborhoods. The program recruits, trains, and places parents in early grade classrooms to aide the students behind in class. Parents receive a stipend of $500 per semester and attend workshops weekly. LSNA founded the Parent Mentor Program in 1995 at Funston Elementary School. Since then, the program has expanded to other Logan Square schools and in 2005 moved to SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), which serves schools on the southwest side.

During the graduation ceremony, parents and program organizers also celebrated the recent funding boost. The state legislature included $1.5 million in the FY15 budget, an increase from $1 million, which according to program organizers displays a ‘strong sign of investment in the parent leadership program.’ According to an independent evaluation of the FY13, it found that ‘teachers and principals in the participating schools reported overwhelming support for the program and an appreciation for its contribution to the school climate, student learning, and parent-school-community engagement.” The Parent Mentor Program has received many national awards and two books were published on LSNA’s education work.

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