Sunnyside schools teach parents so their children can succeed

Sunnyside schools teach parents so their children can succeed
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside has seen big gains in its high school graduation rate. It jumped from 50 percent to more than 80 percent last year. Still, the district knows it's not finished.

Idalia Zamora has two children who go to school in Sunnyside. Like all parents, she wants her children to follow their dreams.

"I hope that they become what they want, whatever it is, that they succeed in everything and never give up," said Zamora.

After working at an orchard for nearly 20 years, Idalia says she wants a better future for her two children.

"It appears easy, it doesn't look like it, but it's hard work," said Zamora. "You become more tired. I don't want them to end up in the field, when they could have something better for themselves, that they have a life much better than what we have right now."

The Sunnyside School District is reaching out to parents like Idalia through a unique pilot program. The District partnered with Transformation Sunnyside to provide classes for families of students who are still struggling in school. Many of the parents haven't graduated high school or college, and it's not easy to help their students academically.

"Many of the parents are working many hours," said Lorenzo Garza, Sunnyside District Parent Engagement Director. "Not that they don't want to get engaged, but many times we find that it's very hard for them."

This is one of the first times businesses in Sunnyside are getting involved in academics. The classes will provide leadership training, or point them towards local resources, like courses to learn English. Idalia is looking forward to the opportunity.

"I want to learn more English so I can have more communication with the teachers and so I can help my children more," said Zamora.

The goal is to reach a 100 percent graduation rate. Finding out how to help students succeed is one of the starting steps.

The district is spending about $40,000 on the program. Right now it includes parents with kids at Outlook Elementary, Sierra Vista Middle and Sunnyside High schools. Administrators hope to expand it to the entire district.