On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
Each grade at ACDS is pursuing a specific service learning project this year. In the fall, Eighth Graders decided that they would like to work with and teach young children, and a partnership with Valley Settlement was Our Eighth Graders started by writing letters to their little buddies in Spanish, introducing who they are and what they enjoy, and asking questions of their new friends. This winter, each Eighth Grade advisory will travel to the El Busesito, Valley Settlement's mobile early education classroom bus to teach and play games with their PreK friends. A recent valentine-making party, our Eighth Graders loved speaking with their new friends in Spanish about dinosaurs -- always a popular topic with the preschool age group!
Here is more information about Valley Settlement. ACDS parent and Valley Settlement board member Jamie Helzberg wrote this to Eighth Grade students before their first meetup with the Busesito kids:
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for learning more about Valley Settlement today! Our mission at Valley Settlement is to empower the Latino community living in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Valley Settlement started using a community organizing approach. Immigrant families were invited to talk privately to share their stories with bilingual organizers. One-on-one interviews with 270 families in 2011 found that immigrants had multiple barriers to settling in the Roaring Fork Valley. Many were unconnected to schools, services, jobs and opportunities. Fear, poor public transportation, a lack of understanding or warm welcome from schools increased their sense of isolation. It became evident that no organization in the community was systematically reaching out to welcome and engage immigrant families with young children. Thus, Valley Settlement was born.
Tomorrow you will visit one of our programs, our El Busesito preschool busses. A fleet of three "little busses" travel to 12 neighborhoods in Glenwood Springs, El Jebel, Basalt, and Carbondale. They provide 5 hours per week of bilingual education to 96 children. These children of immigrant families would otherwise have no access to preK education.
Everything that Valley Settlement does focuses on a two-generation approach involving the whole family. For example, we know that the benefits of engaging and educating parents also extends to their children.
Sometimes my kids say I don't listen. Every program at Valley Settlement is the result of listening. Listening to the needs of people living in our community.
Valley Settlement is transforming the lives of hundreds of immigrant families living in the Roaring Fork Valley. Bringing these families out of isolation and successfully engaging them in the school and the community has had a profound impact.
Our work must continue with your generation. Thank you for all that you are doing and will continue to do to repair our world!
P.S. If you would like to learn about other Valley Settlement programs, please watch this video.