By: Dinorah Peña-Durán
A great milestone is taking place this 2020 at Irving ISD!
The HIPPY program is celebrating 20 years as part of our district. HIPPY, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschoolers, is a free 3-year home-based program offered to children between the ages of 3-5: the purpose of the HIPPY program is to work with parents and help them prepare their children for Academic Success.
Throughout the school year, instructors conduct weekly home visits to instruct parents in educational activities designed for their children and inform them about relevant activities in their community. Their comprehensive curriculum—focused on literacy, math, science, motor skills, and language—gives them the foundation to do better from pre-kindergarten through high school.
Irving’s HIPPY Home Instructors serve a total of 4 years and conduct over 3,600 community service hours. At the end of each school year completed, Home Instructors are awarded an educational award to attend a College/University of their choice.
Claudia Márquez-Gómez is an example of this. She started in Irving ISD as a substitute teacher, and after learning about the great benefits of the program, she joined and managed to finish her bachelor’s degree while being a home instructor, later, as a specialist, she obtained her master’s degree and is now a HIPPY coordinator.
“The number of people who make up HIPPY has doubled in recent years,” says Ernesto Mendizabal, Irving ISD’s HIPPY and Early Childhood Education coordinator. “Many of our home instructors were mothers that were part of the program first, they trained and then they held other positions within the district; from instructional assistants, parent liaisons, to teachers. The positive impact of HIPPY is at all levels: parents, instructors, schools and the community. “
When asked about how the pandemic has changed their activities, Claudia Márquez says: “It has affected a little, but parents know that HIPPY is their support system, and they see our instructors as a resource. Home visits are now via Zoom; therefore the instruction and support continue to be conveyed virtually every week with great success.”
HIPPY is not, in any way, a type of competition for other educational programs offered by the district, on the contrary, they wholeheartedly support them. For example, each HIPPY home instructor makes sure parents are aware of the different pre-k choices that Irving ISD offers, and encourages the enrollment of children signed up in the program.
Many success stories have been written in two decades of the program at Irving ISD. In fact, there is already a generation of students who began their academic training at HIPPY and graduated from Irving ISD High Schools. Like Priscilla Cerda, who was not only a part of the program as a child, but now she herself is an instructor.
“I joke that I am a HIPPY of yesterday, today and always. Twenty years ago, I was a HIPPY child, and a year ago my daughters were also in the program,” Cerda says. “Even outside of my working hours, I’m always trying to recruit people who would enrich our program. I encourage parents to take the time to learn about what HIPPY has to offer.”
The benefits are extensive, among which it is worth highlighting:
- HIPPY offers instruction for families with children identified or diagnosed with autism, in conjunction with the HIPPY state office and the University of North Texas.
- Sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), HIPPY offers free field trips for registered families throughout the school year.
- The HIPPY Scholarship, established in 2013 in collaboration with the Irving Schools Foundation, provides opportunities for high school seniors graduating from the HIPPY program.
In conclusion, the HIPPY program lays the groundwork on the path of learning and helps parents become the first and most important teacher in their children’s lives.
For more information and to learn more about HIPPY at Irving ISD, visit their site IrvingISD.net/HIPPY.
And watch their HIPPY 2020 video: https://youtu.be/2BE-uLT0MXk