Leticia Servin spent her summer with the families of Latino students entering high school, especially those with limited resources, preparing them for academic success. She is continuing to meet with the Carson City High School students and families throughout the school year, helping them to overcome barriers to graduating.
Servin is Latino outreach coordinator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Carson City, providing a number of programs to help Carson City's Latino students succeed in school. She says that each year, the number of Latino high school students finishing school is declining in her community, not because of population changes, but because the students are not succeeding academically.
"Every year, the number of Latinos graduating high school is going down," Servin said. "We want the numbers to stay consistent."
So, Servin decided to add a Home Visit Program to her work by visiting the homes of 40 incoming Carson City High School students this summer. She believes home visits make transfer to the high school environment and system easier for the students and parents.
"When you go to their space, it makes them feel more comfortable," she said. "They realize, 'I have someone who understands me,' and they're more willing to ask questions."
Many of the families she visited struggle with English, and many others cannot attend important after-school meetings because they have to work multiple jobs.
"Because of the language barrier and the necessity of work, parents have had a hard time connecting with someone at the high school," Servin said. "Also, many of the students feel the school is not their space, so they're uncomfortable reaching out for help."
During her visits and work with the families over the summer, Servin showed parents several tools to help them understand the high school system and help their students. She taught them how to use "Power School," a system for parents to track their children's work daily online. She also showed them the school calendar and taught them how to follow it, and provided Spanish translations of important written information and school handouts. In addition, she explained how the grading system works and how the consistent completion of homework assignments contributes to student success.
Servin also spent time helping the parents organize things necessary for school, such as creating a portfolio of important papers necessary for scholarships, grants and employment. She helped them find resources available for low-income families, such as places to look for insurance and other needs.
Servin plans to visit each family at least four more times during the school year to provide additional assistance, and she plans to keep following up with the students during their high school years, tracking their progress. She also hopes to train more Latino outreach ambassadors - parents and others familiar with the Latino culture and the community who can assist Latino high school students and their parents to ensure success in high school.
Servin provides a broad range of Cooperative Extension outreach programs to assist Latino students and parents in Carson City:
- She works with Latino girls at Carson City Middle School and Eagle Valley Middle School through the Alliance of Latinas in Teen Action and Solidarity (ALITAS) Program, meeting with the students weekly to help ensure success in school and develop leadership and life skills.
- Through the Making Education the Answer (META) Program, she works with Latino students at Carson City High School in a club-like environment to help them focus on building self-esteem, leadership and work skills, and to be successful in high school.
- Through The Parent Project, school counselors refer teens at risk of entering the juvenile justice system and their parents to Servin, who works with the parents to suggest ways they can help their children learn to resolve conflicts, manage anger and reduce self-destructive behaviors. She also encourages the parents to support one another and be resources for each other in parenting.
The Cooperative Extension Latino outreach programs in Carson City are part of the University of Nevada, Reno's efforts to work closely with the K-12 community to ensure student success and prepare all Nevada students for higher education.