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College Trains Bronx Parents to Be Education Partners

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Yokayra Fernandez-Haghighi admits that she was enjoying a "lazy summer" with her children.

But a few weeks before school started this month, her 7-year-old son Jesus said: "Mom, you haven't been reading to me at night."

That gentle reminder was all Fernandez-Haghighi needed to grab a book and return to work at home and at Public School 85 in Bronx, N.Y. The stay-at-home mother of two children has become a fixture at the elementary school because of a new parent-involvement partnership between P.S. 85 The Great Expectations School and Mercy College's School of Education, in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Mercy College opened the Bronx Parent Center in 2012 to help improve student achievement by teaching, training, and supporting parents to become education advocates and partners in their children's schooling. The center wants to provide meaningful and individualized support for parents to assist their children academically, socially, and behaviorally from kindergarten through college.

Aramina Vega Ferrer, the center's director and an associate professor of literacy and multilingual studies at Mercy College, calls it a "grassroots movement among educators." The college's professors are donating their time to work with parents.

Parents are eager not only to learn more about their children's education, they want to become leaders at their schools, too. And some, like Fernandez-Haghighi, are leading workshops for other parents.

Read more about the Bronx Parent Center in an Education Week story I wrote.

Watch an interview with Aramina Vega Ferrer and Yokayra Fernandez-Haghighi here:

Is your parent center making a marked difference in your community and improving student achievement? Contact me at [email protected] to share your story.

See our full coverage of parent empowerment issues.

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