Helping Hispanic Students Prepare to Lead in Business

Schools, parents and the entire community—including businesses—come together to help Hispanic students.

Editor’s note: This article concludes a two-part series.

The African Proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child” is as true in 2013 as it has ever been. Parents, teachers, school administrators, communities and businesses need to come together to support the learning needs of students and help prepare them for success, according to Tami Espinosa. The principal at Brentwood Academy in East Palo Alto, Calif., Espinosa has been working to turn around her elementary school but the lessons she’s learned can be applied anywhere.

Brentwood Academy serves a population of working-class families. More than 90 percent of the school’s 600 students qualify for free or reduced price lunches. About 80 percent are English learners. Latino students comprise 75 percent of the population. To take those 600 students who are future parents, future taxpayers, future business owners, future employees, etc., and help them achieve starts early and continues on through their school careers.

Despite the socio-economic status of the school’s population, Espinosa refuses to lower her expectations for Brentwood’s students. “We know what challenges they come with and it’s important to know those challenges, but it’s really important not to use those challenges as excuses,” she explains.

“So it can’t be an excuse for the school staff to not meet with families because they don’t speak their language. It can’t be an excuse that kids don’t do their homework because the whole family lives in one room. Things need to get done so we need to work with the families to come up with an action plan so students are able to do homework, so they’re able to practice what they learned in school.”

It’s the school system’s job, with the help of the community at large, to figure out how to overcome those obstacles, according to Espinosa.

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