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Chester County Press

Editorial: La puerta, abierta

06/27/2017 12:22PM ● By Richard Gaw
There is a Hispanic family living in Kennett Square. The two children, a boy and a girl, have attended schools in the Kennett Consolidated School District since the time they were old enough for kindergarten. Born in America, they are part of the kaleidoscope of multiculturalism that this school district has become known for. They each play sports. They are both involved in school activities and, riding on the influence of teachers, mentors and friends, they each have dreams that will someday include a college education. They live in a world that has been fashioned by their educational opportunities to feel that everything within their grasp is possible.
The siblings also live part of their lives in a smaller world, one inhabited by their parents and a large portion of the older Hispanic community, where the culture is held proudly and tightly to the vest. They live in quiet dignity, are emboldened by their heritage, and take their definition from the tightened bonds of la familia … and yet they struggle to break free from a barrier that separates them from that wider world their children belong to.
They see their children's school work on the kitchen table. Books, instructions, all in English. They hear the language of the parents and administrators spoken at their children's games, all in English. They hear the English terminology of modern-day education sprinkled during the evening meal: Parent-teacher conference, school grading policy, in-school tutorial, as well as a hyphenated link of words that bring them the most excitement and the most trepidation, college-prep.  
These families don't have to live in fear anymore.
Understanding the need for the Hispanic community to be able to leap over these obstacles and better immerse themselves in their children's education, the Kennett schools recently launched the APEX Program, which enlists the help of bilingual parents to assist Hispanic families in understanding school structure, while also providing them with the skills to help get their children to complete homework and succeed in school. Through the informality of monthly meetings at the Kennett Middle School in Landenberg – called the Cafe – APEX volunteers choose various talking points and agendas that help parents navigate through the Kennett school system. With the help of interpreters, the upcoming school year's Cafe meetings will introduce parents to the district's grading program; teach how the schools approach cyberbullying and cybersafety; explain the role that the Kennett Library plays in their child's education; and show how they may be able to strengthen the school-home connection in their child's education.   
The July 5 edition of the Chester County Press will introduce readers to how the APEX Program began in the district, how it operates, the large picture of its mission and the positive impact the program has already had on many Hispanic families. 
“I think it's about building hope,” KCSD Superintendent Dr. Barry Tomasetti said of the program at a recent planning session.
We also think it's also about opening doors. La puerta, abierta.