Adobe Acres Elementary School held a graduation ceremony Wednesday, but it wasn’t for the students, it was for their parents.    

For the last 10 weeks, 10 mothers participated in a course known as “Abriendo Puertas,” or “Opening Doors.”

“Our parents have an important role in our schools and without them we can’t do our jobs,” Mayra Acevedo said.

Acevedo is a community advocacy manager for Partnership for Community Action. The local non-profit partners with different schools, to carry-out a model known as “Communities for Education and Action.”

They’re primary focus is families in the Latino community, although anyone is welcome to participate.

“Many of our parents are illiterate. Many of our parents have a gap in communication because of language, so there are a lot of barriers,”  Denise Balderas said. “This program helps to break down barriers and allows them to acquire skills and tools to navigate.”

Balderas is the principal at Adobe Acres Elementary. She said she can’t be more pleased with the decision to take part in the program; and she’s already thinking about how to fit the program in next year’s budget.

“They gain a sense of pride and a sense of ownership,” Balderas said. “They feel they are now able to build these partnerships and they’re more willing to be a part of the school life.”

In 10 weeks, facilitators with the Partnership for Community Action organization help parents learn how to navigate through the education system.

“What does it mean to be bilingual? Nutrition. Social and emotional health. Literacy. Advocacy. What are our right as parents?” Acevedo said. 

Griselda Beltran, a mother of four, admitted, in the beginning she was nervous.

“My goal in this program is to learn. Learn more about how to be a better mother,” she said. “I want to look at them some day, look at them, dressed in what I am today.”

Ruth Elias is another mother who graduated from the program Wednesday. She has a 2-year-old daughter and although she isn’t in school now, Elias said this is for her future.

“With this and with this robe, I show my daughter that whatever I passed through, we can do it,” she said. “The more we learn the more strong we are.”

She said between work and other classes she’s enrolled in, this one was worth it.

“Education is a big thing,” Elias said. “I’ve learned you have the opportunity to go to the classes and stay there and see what the teachers are teaching so you can help your kids at school and at home.”

The course is offered in Spanish and English. Grandparents are welcome too.