Life-Saving Lessons: AVANCE’s Bilingual Parent-Child
Education Program Teaches More Than Basic Education
Throughout the nine months of the Parent-Child Education course, instructors measure students’ achievements from enhanced parenting skills to greater English language proficiency. We even track graduating students to find out whether they go on to get their GED, Associate’s Degree or technical certificate that will help them build a better life for themselves and their families. Often the challenge lies in attempting to quantify the intangible impact this type of instruction provides.
At one of our recent Parent-Child graduation ceremonies, one of my students approached me and said, “I owe AVANCE my life and the lives of my children.”
I admit to being caught off guard. “Well, thank you,” I answered, “But it is because of your great effort that you are succeeding.”
This AVANCE ‘mom’ replied, “You do not understand, I literally owe my life to AVANCE.”
“What exactly do you mean?” I asked. “I was invited to come to this class by a good friend of mine,” she explained, “At that time, I was terribly troubled and going through a deep depression. I was taking this out on my children - blaming them for all my troubles. Still, my friend would not give up on me and she kept inviting me to attend.”
“Two days before I came to my first AVANCE class, I was planning to take my life,” she continued, “Or abandon my three children. I remember the subject of the lesson that first day was Do Parents Make a Difference?”
“I was changed by that class,” confessed the woman. “I felt like a blindfold had been taken from my eyes. It was then that I realized three things 1) I need to prepare my children for life. It is my duty and no one else’s responsibility, 2) My children do not have to go through what I have been through. I can make a difference in my life and in theirs just focusing all my energy on what I love most, my children, and 3) I was a miserable mother and I was making my children miserable. I was a neglected child who became a neglectful mother - but the class helped me to realize I had the power to change everything, and I did.”
I was speechless as I listened to her amazing story. As her instructor, how did I fail to notice all of these things? How is it that one of my students arrived hopeless and desperate, and was now departing optimistic and determined to do everything differently?
“I can assure you,” she stated, “I am not who I was. I used to reject my children’s hugs and kisses; now I see so many missed opportunities to show them love! Today I want to hold them and kiss them to make up for those times.”
“I am also trying to get my GED,” she added. “I want to make my children proud. I am working part-time while my youngest daughter goes to school, and now I have dreams and aspirations for the future, and you’ve given me the tools.”
In the end, I am reminded this is why I teach. Although my purpose is administering AVANCE’s Parent-Child Education Program, fostering healthy families, promoting basic education, and providing ESL and literacy support to families; it is important not to lose sight of the ‘big picture’. This humbling experience has taught me it is a privilege and a responsibility to be a part of our students’ lives—and my true purpose is to honor this in every classroom.
Ricardo Brambila has been employed with AVANCE-Rio Grande Valley for two years. He has a B.A. in Business Administration from Universidad Valle del Bravo, and a B.A.S. in Theology from Howard Payne University.
AVANCE, Inc.’s core program is the nationally-recognized, bilingual model for Parent-Child Education. While the curriculum focuses on providing parents with instruction concerning the social, cognitive, emotional and physical developmental needs of young children age 0-3, program participants benefit from increased exposure to written and conversational English, and many gain the self-confidence necessary to return to a classroom—any classroom.