Her children, her future and herself. Those were the three motivators that drove Maribel Miranda to earning her GED (General Educational Development) last month. Despite all of the obstacles that she faced, she persisted and accomplished this goal, thanks to the district’s Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) department and parent liaisons.
AEL offers classes at no cost to adult learners needing to obtain their GED, learn English and gain career-focused skills.
“I saw a school flyer promoting these GED classes. But there were no classes in Spanish. I thought, ‘I’m going to go for it. I’m going to go to the English classes,’” says Miranda.
Through the AEL program, she enrolled in GED classes at Austin Middle School in the fall of 2019. By the following January, Johnston Elementary School parent liaison Myrna Andolz had recruited enough interested parents to begin offering the classes in Spanish at Johnston. Two months after transferring to the Spanish sessions, the pandemic hit.
However, Miranda stayed the course.
“I kept attending classes via Zoom every Monday through Thursday, 8:30 to 10:30 AM, signed up the following year and attended Zoom classes for a whole year,” says Miranda. “When it came time to take the exams, we were all hesitant. But one of the instructors motivated us, ‘You can do this. Go for it.’”
In June, Miranda tested and passed, on the first attempt, the math portion of the GED. Two months later, she tested and passed the remaining three sections (reading, social studies and science) within a week in August.
“The exams were in Spanish, which made this that much more accessible,” she says. “I did this for myself. I wanted to accomplish this because in Mexico I wasn’t able to earn my diploma. I also wanted my kids to see that it can be done, even if it is later in life. It’s never too late. Also, in the future I want to work, perhaps as a teacher’s assistant. I’d really like that.”
A more immediate goal for Miranda is learning English. Since earning a GED, she has enrolled in English classes offered through AEL.
“All of the classes I have taken are through Irving ISD,” she says. “They are free, the hours are flexible and there are even Zoom options, which is what I do because that is what is most convenient for my schedule.”
In addition to the GED and English classes offered by the district, Miranda enrolled in the district’s Path to College and Careers hosted by the district’s parent engagement department, which equips parents with the resources to help their children succeed. The program teaches parents about the district’s career and technical education offerings, dual credit and collegiate academies, advanced course and college readiness.
“These are resources not only for students, but parents as well,” Miranda says.”Many people think there is a cost, but these are all free. The district offers so many opportunities. We learn a lot, but there is also a sense of community. I have met wonderful moms who have become my friends, and to see each other succeed has been so empowering. I came to Irving, and in the school district I have found friends that I didn’t have. I do feel proud and so grateful.”
For Andolz, this is what the programs offered by parent centers like hers are all about.
“I tell our parents, especially those that are from other countries that we came to this country to rise and shine, and we have to be ready for the present and future,” she says. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we have to be ready for whatever comes our way. I am proud of the way this parent center empowers moms like Maribel. Because by empowering the mom, we are indirectly empowering the students.”
To learn more about the opportunities offered for parents, visit the district’s Adult Education and Literacy website at IrvingISD.net/AEL or talk to the parent liaison at your child’s campus.