A Father’s Advice - Petonila's Story
Petronila is a small woman. But she has a big smile, a big heart and big dreams for her children. “My oldest daughter is in the 7th grade. She does very well here at Harrison Park School. And she has decided that she will be a doctor—a surgeon,” she tells me through the interpreter. When I ask her where she would like to attend college, she tells me without hesitation, “the University of Michigan.”
Where did this mother of three, a recent immigrant to the United States, get such confidence and find the courage to dream big for her children? “My father, back in Mexico, once told me that an education is not what it gives you, but what you decide to put into it. I believe that. And the opportunities me and my family have here at Harrison Park School are wonderful.”
Katie Etheridge, the Community Services Counselor within the KSSN Program provided by D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s nods in agreement and adds, “Petronila is always at school for special events. She has been a part of the door-to-door campaign to meet parents of children who have had attendance problems. She urges them to get their children to school every day. She has been an organizer of the Family Fun Night, chaperones field trips with the students and helped decorate the school on Cinco de Mayo this spring.” Petronila adds, “I also come to the ice cream socials” with a broad smile.
But it’s not all parties and fun. Petronila points out that she wants to be helpful as her 7th grade daughter faces more challenges in school. “I’ve started taking classes to learn English,” she adds. “I attend classes offered through the Family Literacy Council at the school.”
When asked about what she enjoys most about her own classes and her involvement at the school, she says, “I am learning new things all the time. I am learning how to help improve this school. I do not want my children wearing sagging pants to school. I want them to be good students. I want them all to go to college.”
Petronila also attends the Second Thursday Meetings held at the school. This is a small handful of parents who will continue the door-to-door program to reduce truancy. They will also conduct parent meetings. “I like to ask them one simple question,” Petronila adds, “Who wants their children to attend college? Now that I know the answer to that question myself, I hope others will raise their hands. This school is where it starts. But, just like my father told me, it’s all what you put into it yourself.”