Raising Highly Capable Kids program sees continued growth

Parents at W.J. Turner Elementary School in Fort Worth eagerly await graduation from the Raising Highly Capable Kids program. (Photo / Leah Reynolds)

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FORT WORTH—With flowers in hand, students at W.J. Turner Elementary School in Fort Worth assembled in the school’s auditorium to witness their parents’ graduation.

mother and daughter 450A student at W.J. Turner Elmentary School in Fort Worth congratulates her mother on graduating from the Raising Highly Capable Kids program. (Photo / Leah Reynolds)Seventeen parents took the stage to receive their diplomas for completing 13 weeks of classes based on the Raising Highly Capable Kids curriculum, a program that teaches parents skills for childrearing.

In 2013, Rafael Berlanga, pastor of Primera Baptist Church in Fort Worth, introduced the program to Manuel Jara Elementary School, located two miles from Turner Elementary.  

Three years later, the program has expanded significantly. Since last spring, 45 schools and churches across the state havehosted classes for the program, graduating 626 parents. Manuel Jara completed its third year and graduated 90 parents in January.

“It has become a lot more than anybody thought,” said Gabriel Cortes, Texas Baptists’ Hispanic Education Initiative director. “It’s really breaking cycles. You start with a family that may have had no hope for the future, and now the parents want to go to college. That will transform children’s lives.”

At Turner Elementary, the program not only is transforming the lives of the children and the parents, but also is making an impact on school involvement.

Principal Elida Gonzalez 300Principal Elida Gonzalez touts the benefits of the Raising Highly Capable Kids program.“The parents (who went through the program) are more willing to come to the school,” Principal Elida Gonzalez said. “They are asking questions. They are asking the right questions of how to help. Before, it was just a one-way conversation with teachers saying everything. Now, the teachers can tell the parents are more knowledgeable and willing to have a conversation.”

Members of Azle Avenue Baptist Church, located two blocks away from Turner, felt God leading last year to adopt the elementary school and begin the Raising Highly Capable Kids program. Norma Trejo, Azle Avenue member, led in the partnership and taught the parents every Thursday morning for 13 weeks.

“We could see the parents become excited about learning,” Trejo said. “Some of them even started coming to our English-as-a-Second-Language class at the church.”

After witnessing the first year’s success in the school and community, both Gonzalez and Trejo say they plan to continue the partnership and offer the program for years to come.

“These parents are being pioneers for something new in this school,” Gonzalez said. “They maintained coming every week on Thursday mornings to gain knowledge on how to better lead their children, first and foremost, but now they are the example for other parents to follow.”

Texas Baptists’ Hispanic Education Initiative team is working with other churches to start a Raising Highly Capable Kids program in their communities. For more information, contact Gabriel Cortes at (214) 887-5426.

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