Thursday, February 26, 2009

UTD Center for Children and Families

I have had UT Dallas on my mind a lot lately. My daughter Hannah is a senior in High School, and while she hasn't made her final decision, she's seriously considering UT Dallas. You know how it is when you are considering buying a certain car you suddenly start seeing it everywhere! That's how UTD has been for me lately, with good reason! UT Dallas has just opened the Center for Children and Families, The center is part of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. I had the pleasure of meeting staff member Emily Touchstone over the phone the other day. It sounds like they have hit the ground running! Their inaugural initiative is the Spring 2009 Lecture Series: "Helping Children Succeed". They are going to be addressing some topics that you usually have to pay good money for at a conference, things such as social aggression among children and helping families cope with chronic illness. They are a great addition to the professional community here in North Texas...and would make a great place for a young college student who might be studying special education to do an internship with :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Texas Teaching Fellows

We’re pleased to have recently met some new colleagues over at Texas Teaching Fellows (, particularly Mike Burlett and Melanie Moore. We found out that we’re working on some of the same issues, from different angles. Their work is to increase the workforce of quality, dedicated teachers in Texas and to improve education for all children in Texas. They do this by providing alternative certification training and ongoing support to their teaching fellows. Their fellows transfer into education from other fields, become alternatively certified teachers, and work in high-need schools. Well, HIPPY also wants to increase the workforce of quality, dedicated teachers, and we work toward improving education for all Texas children. How? Many of our HIPPY home visitors want to go into education, and they use their AmeriCorps education award to get their degrees. Their experience in HIPPY makes them passionate and dedicated teachers, as evidenced by several home instructors who became first time teachers this year. How do we improve education for children? Our HIPPY parents receive weekly home visits that provide them with the curriculum for them to work with their child for an hour a week, getting them ready for school. Students who were in HIPPY have demonstrated statistically significant higher test scores than children who did not benefit from the program. By forging a partnership with Texas Teaching Fellows it allows us to create a better support net for teachers, home visitors, parents and children. We are especially eager to create a partnership that can help bring HIPPY to Carrollton Farmer’s Branch, and create a pool of future teachers for the region.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Coordinator Spotlight - Esme

Monica (l) and Esmeralda (r) at the Kick Off

Esmeralda Rodriguez is new to HIPPY but has years of experience in the field of parent education. After the founding coordinator, Gina Esparza, was promoted and left HIPPY we were lucky to have HIPPY transferred into Esmeralda’s Parent Involvement Department at Grand Prairie ISD. I had a chance to get to know Esme in Little Rock when she attended the New Coordinator Preservice, and then again when we were assigned to the same cabin during the Kick Off (you really get to know someone when you see each other first thing in the morning before you get your game face on!). I recently had a chance to ask her the following questions:

What brought you to the field of parent education?
I was interested in providing prevention assistance and community resources to the students and families in order for them to be academically successful and make informed decisions that would benefit the student and the families.

What is your philosophy when it comes to involving parents?
All parents need be valued and given respect. We need to provide them a variety of opportunities to share their talents and gifts at our campuses.

Could you share a HIPPY success story from Grand Prairie?
Florina Montenegro had her sons Washington and Irving in our HIPPY program. Florina was shy and quiet. Her involvement with HIPPY has helped her to be one of our best parent volunteers at the Parent Involvement Center. She has learned to be very involved with the teachers of her children. She is awesome and is trying to continue to learn English to help her kids in school. She attends our parent workshops consistently.