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Latino Education Institute Celebrates 10 Years of Success

Folkloric, Flamenco and Salsa dances were among the ways Worcester State University celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Latino Education Institute (LEI) on Thursday, October 11 in the Helen G. Shaughnessy Administration Building. About 110 guests also enjoyed live entertainment by an ensemble featuring Jose Castillo and a special anniversary video.

As part of the speaking program, President Barry Maloney brought remarks on behalf of the University. “Over the past decade, the Latino Education Institute has dedicated its efforts to improving the academic achievement and well-being of Latino students and their families,” he said. “Our firmly held belief that education opens the door to a successful life, civic engagement, employment and life-long learning, guides everything LEI does.”

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, City Councilor Sarai Rivera ’90, City Councilor Phil Palmieri, City Councilor Kate Toomey, School Committee Member John Monfredo ’64, M.Ed. ’67, School Committee Member Brian O’Connell, Quinsigamond Community College President Gail Carberry and Associate Director of Admissions Deborah Gonzalez, Colleges of the Holy Cross Professor Rosa Carrasquillo, and many employees from various WSU departments attended.

“Our Teaching Corps Program exemplifies what we do best, bridging the university and community to improve education for public school students and enhance educational experiences for WSU students,” said LEI Executive Director Mary Jo Marion.

Damaris Velez joined the LEI/Worcester State University Teaching Corps Program in the spring of 2012.  As an elementary education major, the Teaching Corps provided her with hands on learning experience at Chandler Elementary School.

The Teaching Corps allowed her to apply what she was learning in her classes through a paid internship and training program. Her job was to provide extra support to a teacher in reading groups and reading assessments in a first grade classroom. By the end of her semester in the Teaching Corps program, she was hired as a long term substitute for the Worcester Public Schools and has been hired full time in the English Language Learners Department.

“Through the Teaching Corps Program, I was able to see the struggles that students face when they do not know the English language, they have a hard time with reading, writing and comprehension,  it’s not an easy task to see progress and I know it takes a passionate, patient and dedicated teacher to help these students succeed,” said Velez.

Crystal Then, a graduate of LEI’s programs, spoke about the institute’s impact on her life and Miguel Lopez, co-chair of the LEI Advisory Committee, delivered an address titled “Our Future.”

The LEI combines an unyielding passion and expertise in education to coordinate and bring together families, public schools, institutions of higher education, government, community based organizations, and the private sector, to improve the educational experiences for Latino families in Worcester.

LEI offers a variety of programs (grades K-16) that highlight the strengths and dynamics of Latino families, reduces school dropout rates, encourages enrollment in higher education and promotes informed citizenry. It offers seven diverse programs, serving over 1,500 youth and their families with education and advocacy programs each year, including Innovative Services for Latino Adolescents, Latina Achievers in Search of Success (LASOS), Latinos Involved in Discovering Educational Resources (LIDER), Club Educación, Encouraging Latinos Achieve Excellence (ENLACE), and One Circle.

LEI’s programs provide a model of how to provide out-of-school-time that increase academic skill levels, provide an opportunity to bring communities together, and provide support to families with the navigation of our public school system. Through educational programs, agency partnerships, volunteer/internship opportunities, and advocacy, LEI is at the forefront of assisting Latino families with their academic and career goals.

For more information, visit www.worcester.edu/lei [1].