By Fuensanta Lopez,
Migrant Outreach Worker
Rain or shine, migrant workers diligently pick the crops that we enjoy. They pick our strawberries, leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, and culinary herbs. They extend tall ladders in perilous places to harvest our avocados, oranges and lemons. Many people simply walk into a supermarket and shop for produce without any thought of the growing process and those who toil for us to enjoy the food.
SDCOE's Migrant Education team gets to know these people. We know their names, origins, circumstances, struggles, and above all, their aspirations to give their children a better life than that which they have known.
We know about the hardships that many of their families face when their loved ones are separated from them. We know of their difficulties to make ends meet, place food on the table, and maintain a roof over their heads. We see the effects of the displacement many children endure with the frequent mobility of their parents who are following the crop cycles. We empathize with their loss of family and friends who are left behind. We know of the loss of school continuity, their struggles to learn English, and how this equates to having to work harder to stay in school and to make progress.
Migrant Education is a federally funded national program designed to provide migrant students with the necessary support to alleviate the problems generated by mobility. The services help develop readiness skills for young children entering kindergarten. They help students in kindergarten through 12th grade to achieve academically—in spite of attendance gaps—and graduate from high school. There is a wide gamut of services provided to students to insure that they remain, and succeed, in school.
Region IX includes San Diego and Orange counties and delivers supplemental services, prioritized by need, to 5,500 students in 53 school districts.
Behind each successful student is a team of migrant staff members, including:
- Migrant outreach workers, who go out into the fields and into the community to locate and identify migrant families.
- Migrant services aides, who link families to vital resources such as housing and food and teach children the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics.
- Secondary school advisors, who mentor high-school students, monitor their progress, and insure that they are on track to graduate and continue to college.
- Out-of-school youth advisors, who mentor and guide dropouts and young men and women under the age of 22 who are here to work. This team develops close ties with their students.
- A health specialist, who coordinates dental and medical resources, as well as an administrative assistant and program secretary who are true experts at multi-tasking.
Each Migrant Education team member knows that the work we do individually and collectively will have a significant impact in the lives of our students and their families. The support they receive will greatly enhance their chances of success.