Serving the community since 1922

Program makes impact on children of migrant farmworkers

The Wasco Union Elementary School District has a Migrant Education Program with the mission to empower students that come from migrant farmworker families.

For families following the different crop seasons, their children's education is often interrupted, putting them at risk of falling behind significantly. The program aims to help students improve and maintain their academics.

Flor Martinez is a migrant resource teacher and said she is a product of the program. Most of the staff is, too. She knows firsthand the powerful impact the program can make on the lives of students from migrant farm working families.

"I was a migrant education student in high school, and they helped me attend college. In my role, I now can give back to those in the community that find themselves with children who are in jeopardy of failing because of their migrant status," Martinez said.

The program helps youth from 3 years old to 8th graders to strengthen their performance on the statewide academic assessments, among other areas of learning.

"We want to help our students fill their educational gaps and help improve state assessment scores. We look at their individual needs so we can provide lessons to meet those goals," Martinez said.

They host lunch time tutoring and after-school and summer school programs. They also do at-home visits for younger students ages three to four.

School readiness classes are offered for 3 to 5 years old.

"We get them ready for kindergarten to provide them with foundational skills, like how to write their names and how to hold a pen correctly, for example, so they are ready for transitional kindergarten or kindergarten, whichever one they qualify for," Martinez said.

TK to 5th-grade migrant students from Teresa Burke, John L. Prueitt, Karl F. Clemens and James A. Forrest elementary schools attend Saturday school classes. A focus is on math, science, writing and speaking skills.

The 6th to 8th-grade middle school migrant students participate in after-school classes every Tuesday and Thursday at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, providing a safe environment for students to learn and catch up on their studies.

They take a unique approach by providing support and guidance tailored to each student's needs.

"We offer hands-on activities that open their minds to new learning experiences while, at the same time, they are learning state standards," Martinez said.

Seeing all the academic success stories, she said their work is paying off.

"We have great teachers that make a big difference in our student's education which has helped boost our student's scores in state assessments."

There are special extracurricular activities they make available to some students, like a yearly trip to Washington, DC., to visit the White House and other landmarks. They also learn about historical figures and the legislative process.

"We pay for plane tickets, hotel stay and food. The main goal is to open migrant student's eyes to a career in government, but mainly inspire them to graduate and pursue higher education so they can be productive members of society," Martinez said.

"We want more people to know about what we offer. We really care about the families here from the city of Wasco and want to support them. If you know of a neighbor or family member that is new to Wasco that has children and work in agriculture, contact our migrant education staff at 661-758-7160 or 661-758-7443," she said.


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