Eight years ago, Amelia and her husband left Mexico in pursuit of more opportunities for their family. The soon-to-be parents settled in Austin and struggled to find a home they could afford. They moved to our Southwest Trails community shortly after and had two daughters, Kathy and Vanessa. Both girls attend our free after-school and summer learning programs at the on-site Community Learning Center and are thriving at Oak Hill Elementary.
“I want my daughters to be educated and have a better future,” said Amelia, who was one-year shy of graduating from high school herself.
Amelia cleans houses and her husband works at a car wash. Living at Southwest Trails for the last several years has been critical for the family’s stability. Not many other apartments in Austin are within the family’s modest budget. In addition, Amelia has participated in our free English as a Second Language and nutrition classes and the family regularly attends community events.
“It’s peaceful here and we appreciate all of the services provided at the learning center,” Amelia said.
For Kathy, 7, and Vanessa, 8, our learning center is a welcoming space where they get daily assistance with homework and participate in enrichment activities with friends. Right now, the girls are enrolled in the summer learning program, which helps prevent “summer slide” by focusing on reading, math, and science.
“Summer slide” is the tendency for students, particularly those from low-income families, to lose some of the academic gains they made during the school year. Research indicates that summer learning loss widens the
achievement gap between low- and middle- to high-income students. Almost 600 students are enrolled in our free summer learning program.
This year, all of our learning centers are utilizing the “I-Ready” program to ensure students are reading on grade level. Amelia wants her daughters to practice reading and stay engaged during the summer months so they are ready when school begins again.
The program isn’t just about academics, though, as there is plenty of time for fun, too. Students at Southwest Trails, for example, are slated to go to the Bullock Texas State History Museum, get a visit from an animal show, go swimming at the community pool, and take weekly nutrition and cooking classes.
Summer will be gone before we know it, and it’s important that our students continue to learn, grow, and play during these months. We want Kathy, Vanessa, and the rest of our students to succeed academically and set big goals for themselves. We believe all of our students are destined for great things.