By Sofía Nagy
Nearly seven years ago, the Latino Literacy program in the Arcadia Unified School District (AUSD) at the elementary school level was started by Alejandra Worozaken (AUSD Instructional Coach), Catherine Merel (AUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction) and Andrea Mendoza (AUSD TK-12 Integration Coordinator).
However, about four years ago, the program expanded to the middle school level. At this level, Perlita Guzmán has been working hard since then to get Latino families, from not only First Avenue Middle School, but Dana Middle School and Foothills Middle School as well, to meet weekly for six weeks.
“I had parents who had no idea that I could obtain the opportunity to go to college,” said Guzmán. “And when I became a parent, I knew that I wanted my kids to go to college, like nearly every other parent’s wishes for their kids. I love doing the Latino Literacy program because I can help parents get the resources that they need to help their kids be successful.”
All families have the opportunity to interactively learn from various speakers and specialists about topics such as the college admissions process, high school, trending topics about today’s youth, and life experiences in general.
“We want to make all Latino parents aware that their children can attain the opportunity to attend college and to help their kids genuinely want to attend college,” said Guzmán. “But also, this has been acting a lot like a support group for the Latino parents who have not gone through the American school system and have questions and concerns regarding their kids’ future.”
The last meeting of the 2019-2020 school year was on Tues., Feb. 11, where Guzmán’s younger brother, Jaime Fernando Guzmán, shared his heart-warming and inspirational life story. He talked about how he overcame obstacles such as bullying, being a single dad, racism, and financial instability among others and, through hard work and perseverance, became the Director of Distributions of Swat Fame Inc. and now leads a much happier life.
The meeting on Tuesday, February 4, Deja Anderson, Arcadia High School’s Education Career Plan Counselor, talked about high school graduation requirements, such as classes, resources, strategies, tips, and the transition from middle school to high school.
In previous meetings, guest speakers such as Arcadia Police Department’s Detective Julian Botello and Officer Evelyn Calderon, Pasadena City College’s (PCC) Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Specialist Melva Álvarez were invited to talk about their area of expertise and share their knowledge.
“I have a son who is in seventh grade in First Avenue,” said María Ramírez. “I come to this program because I do learn a lot from what is talked about regarding universities and colleges and guiding our kids to do what they want to do while they learn to unfold themselves as good human beings and citizens.”
To learn more and ask about the Latino Literacy Program, you can email PGuzman@ausd.net in English and Spanish. Additionally, you may contact and/or follow @msgfit on Twitter and @ms.guzmanfa on Instagram. You may also check out and follow #FALatinoliteracy on Instagram to view posts regarding the program.