Earlier this month, a dozen families from El Verano Elementary School, including mothers, fathers and students of all ages, gathered on a Saturday at Sonoma State University.  The group enjoyed a detailed campus tour, conducted primarily in Spanish, and met with a former El Verano student, Gemma Bolanos, SVHS ‘12, who accompanied the group as they walked around the campus. The group also heard from Director of Admissions Gustavo Flores and first generation college students. These students shared their journey to college, including their challenges and successes.

The tour was one of several programs developed for Spanish speaking parents by school parent Mario Castillo.  The Universidad de Padres (Parent University) parent-leadership program at El Verano, that he founded with Principal Maite Iturri, brings parents together for monthly discussions, professional speaker and college campus visits.

At El Verano, 80 percent of the families are Spanish-speaking, so this program being conducted in Spanish was an important way to open the door for parents who did not attend college themselves to learn more about college life. “We are hoping this program helps our parents feel more comfortable with the idea of college and more confident in participating in their children’s educational future,” said Iturri. She said that thanks to programs like the SSU campus tour, she has noticed a steady increase in parent involvement at the school, an important marker of student success.

According to Iturri, EV families are very interested in supporting their children’s educational journey. “Sonoma State University and University of California, Davis have opened their doors to our parents with special campus tours and offered excellent information and taken away some of the mystery around college.”