Where’s Bill? Follow PVF’s Executive Director, Bill Somerville, out of the office, for site visits and meetings with outstanding grassroots leaders.
For ten plus years PVF has funded graduates of ESL classes to act as Parent Involvement Workers with Hispanic parents. We know that parent involvement is vital to student achievement. When teachers don’t speak Spanish and parents don’t speak English, our workers are the bridge.
These women are immigrants and getting jobs is very hard. They are raising children who are doing superior academic work in school. We are impressed with how focused and dedicated they are as parents, and in guiding other Hispanic parents.
In recognition of their work over the years we took the three senior Parent Involvement Workers to the Stanford Faculty Club for lunch, something they had never experienced.
The following week, in an effort for the workers to know more about East Palo Alto, we took them to the Senior Center for lunch and then a tour of the YMCA gym. It turns out one of the workers belongs to the Y and works out every day.
A week later, the three Parent Involvement Workers sponsored James Higa, a top executive from Apple, to come to their school and demonstrate the iPad. The teachers and students had never seen an iPad before, and everyone was absorbed for a full hour. The students who attended the demonstration were chosen by the Principal for their good behavior and their academic work – thus we were empowering the Principal to be able to reward and stimulate students to achieve.
James Higa showed the students how to use the iPad to read books and sing songs. He asked the students who their latest heart throb was and found and played a song by him. The iPad will even let you sing along and it corrects your voice if you are off key. He demonstrated how a Spanish text can have an immediate translation on screen. The students were impressed – so was I.
In a sense, this was another demonstration of what PVF does. We bring resources to the community, be it money or people. Since our founding we have distributed over $70 million in grants.