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Mpls School Implements Methods to Help Latino Students Graduate

Updated: 02/08/2014 12:11 AM
Created: 02/07/2014 9:34 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell

Right now many local leaders say the state of education for Latinos in Minnesota, is in crisis. But some new techniques at a Minneapolis school are getting positive results.

Just half of all Latino students in Minnesota graduate from high school, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And that’s the lowest in the country. KSTP caught up with a team, trying to change that, that’s seeing some success.

Adrian Vazquez and Maria Nava are two of the high school seniors graduating from El Colegio this year.

It’s been a long road that’s difficult to put into words. “I believe more in myself now, and they,” Nava said. She paused and teared up saying, “Oh my gosh I'm going to cry, oh I can't do this.” But that’s just it – at El Colegio, Nava learned she can.

She no longer lacks self-esteem. “I learned that I had a voice, you know and I'm like, I'm motivated, so I'm taking that with me and I believe that I can get really far and one day I want to come back here and teach others."

And to help them get there – there's an auction. The college-bound seniors can use the money raised for living expenses. “The event is called Mira Mi Corazon,” Vazquez said. In English that’s “Look At My Heart.”

El Colegio’s Executive Director Norma Garces said, “When the students come to El Colegio typically they come in emotionally, educationally and culturally broken so their heart is fixed here."

And for the first time, all of the seniors at El Colegio took their ACTs, did well, and the 12 of them have a plan to go to a local college.

School leaders say the success is based on: consistent, one-on-one academic counseling, weekly university mentorship initiatives, and instilling confidence. “You cannot educate someone who does not believe that they can do it,” Garces said.

Vazquez now believes he has educational roots that will allow him to grow. “I am really excited to go to the university and try my best. I really do want to accomplish this dream." Vazquez’s dream is to be a doctor. Nava wants to be a teacher.

There are currently 24 juniors at El Colegio. They’re hoping their graduation success will increase again next year.


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