Carlota Wilson, of Tucson, enjoys working with children very much. She realized during her college years in the 1960’s that education would be her chosen career field. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in the 1960’s, and taught for several years, before returning to school again in late 1970’s to get a masters in elementary education.
Of Mexican heritage, Carlota grew up speaking Spanish. It seemed a natural fit for her to work in bilingual education. Although she is now retired from teaching, she has continued to work with the children (and in some cases, adults) who need her most. Since 2001, Carlota has been volunteering for the Child Abuse Prevention Center. As a volunteer parent aide, Carlota is sent to the homes of these children, with a goal of helping them perform better in school. The children she assists usually grow up speaking Spanish in the home, with a limited knowledge of the English language. “These kids usually do well in [English] conversation, but have trouble with reading. They usually have trouble with science textbooks,” she explained.
Carlota works with children from kindergarten age to some who are in their teenage years. She makes her own lesson plans for the children she works with. Most of the kids are very interested in animals, and this is a good starting point in helping the children learn better English. She will bring the child a non-fiction book about animals. “I have them write an outline of what they know about the animal, where it lives, what it eats,” Carlota stated. “The child will then write a paragraph in English showing what they’ve learned.”
On one occasion, Carlota had the opportunity to work with a parent in the parent aide program. One of the parents needed assistance in obtaining her GED, but she had a limited knowledge of English, and Carlota helped her with learning English.
These are the kind of tasks that might fall to a parent aide who is working for the Child Abuse Prevention Center in Tucson. There are Family Support Specialists who help the families in this program with their physical and/or emotional problems. These trained professionals have regular visits with a family as they help these families work towards achieving their goals. The Child Abuse Prevention Center also offers Family Enrichment Workshops. Topics for these workshops may include: parenting, safety, quality family time, and nutrition. The Child Abuse Prevention Center also has an Adopt a Family Program during the holidays.
As for Carlota, her interest in working with Spanish speaking children grew after Proposition 203 was passed in Arizona in 2000. Proposition 203 was an initiative requiring public schools in Arizona to end traditional bilingual education. Rather than having classes taught in both English and Spanish, children with limited English skills would now be placed in an intensive one-year English-immersion program. ( http://www.onenation.org/0011/112000a.htm )
Recent research shows that 60 percent of the public school students in Tucson are of Mexican descent. ( http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/us/july-