For a child to succeed, he or she needs support at home, at school and within the community. A parent’s involvement in a school can make a world of a difference, even if they’re not in their own child’s classroom.
Valentina Ortiz is a regular face around her children's schools.
"You can't imagine how excited they are when they see me in the school," Oritz said. "It doesn't matter what I'm doing. Maybe I'm sweeping in the cafeteria, just to try to help, but the thing is they're really excited to see me there."
Ortiz moved to Austin with her family years ago. She wanted to help out at her children's school, but worried about the language barrier. She quickly realized, though, she was even more helpful for students who also have Spanish as their first language.
"The children, all children need an adult by their side, reading to them, teaching them and helping them to succeed," Ortiz said.
With a growing population and a shrinking education budget, teachers need all the help they can get. Volunteers like Ortiz help close the education gap within the classroom by providing smaller ratios and more one-on-one attention for students.
"Educating a child is a partnership,” Ortiz said. “Yes, you need a teacher, but you also need a parent."
Studies have shown when families are involved a child's education, that student is more likely to do better in school, stay in school and enjoy learning.
"The faces of the students when their parents are in the school, they are all the time smiling, because it's nice to be in the hallway and see your father or mother, and say 'Oh, they're here!' It's really important for them," Ortiz said.
She is now a volunteer coordinator for Austin Partners in Education, and she hopes more parents and community members will step up and help out in their local schools.
"Sometimes parents don't know how to be a volunteer in the school and that's something that maybe the schools should communicate better," Ortiz said. "Everybody has to be part of the education. Everything counts, and parenting being involved in the school is very important, not just for the school and students but even for the parents."
Parents can be involved in their child's education in many ways, from reading to them, to helping with homework, to becoming a part of the Parent-Teacher Association, or volunteering in their child's classroom.