Reforzamiento / Reforz
UPAVIM provides an educational support program for children and their families called reforzamiento. This program is an after school/before school program that assists children in learning. In reforzamiento the children are provided a safe place to learn, play and grow. For some this reforzamiento will be the only education that they will be able to receive due to economic and dysfunctional family issues.
Reyna Cho, has been the director for 15 years. She does not have a degree or certificate in teaching; she started at age 17 working at UPAVIM and just fell into the position. Her primary job is to assist with children’s education through tutoring and teaching, but she also works with parents, seeking to provide resources for them so that their children can go to school. At times her job requires her to advocate for children when parents are not providing needed care. Reyna often reports how difficult and discouraging it can be, as there are so little resources and such great needs for children in the community.
Her job can be very difficult as she often has a range of ages 5 to 17 all at the same time. Additionally, the frequent lack of assistance of a volunteer or assistant teacher makes it often impossible for her to provide each child with the help they need.
Reyna currently has to live in San Lucas about an hour and a half away by bus from UPAVIM due to the recent danger she has experienced in the community. She has to start early about 430 am to get her children ready and off to school and have enough time to arrive by 8am at UPAVIM. From 8am to 9am she has planning for the day and then from 930 to 1230 two separate groups of mainly prepa (ages 4-6) come in the morning. The prepa morning groups come for 1.5 hours and she works with them learning their letters with the sounds and recognizing numbers. On Thursday’s she works on teaching the simple English that she knows from all her time with volunteers. From 1230- 2pm she has a break. The afternoon she has from 2-3pm first grade about 6-8 of them as well as 6-8 that are in 3rd and 4th grade. From 3- 4pm there is mainly 3rd and 4th grade. The last hour of the day she has 3rd grade to 6ths grade who mostly stay to have a safe place to play and visit with kids their age, but if they have homework they will ask for help with it from volunteers or Rena.
The most difficult part of the day is the afternoon as there are so many ages coming for help and they are all on different levels. Several in the afternoon and in the morning have learning disabilities and several need special attention as they are not able to go to school. For example, “K” is a very intelligent boy who is in 3rd grade and going into 4th, , but cannot read and is not up to grade level in math. He is not able to go to school as his mother does not have his papers and she is not willing to be responsible and get them, even with help.