Through two rounds of funding, we helped launch Classroom Connection, a UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) program that has evolved into an exciting partnership between Puente, the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District and Merrill College, one of the ten colleges at UCSC. The program was launched under the tutelage of Pescadero resident and former UCSC Professor Larry Trujillo. This is a program where bilingual Latino college role models earn college credits. They travel to Pescadero twice a week to provide one-on-one support to elementary, middle and high school students. This is a small, rural community with many farm workers–many Pescadero students are still learning at least some English and most will be the first in their families to graduate from high school and go to college.
Tailored College Tours
Puente students also regularly tour local college campuses to help them see themselves in college and beyond.. Each visit is customized and involves direct participation of Student Affairs staff and faculty allies who are personally committed to supporting Latino/first generation student success. Strong student panels of first generation students with personal testimonials are a powerful feature of these visits. Puente also holds a career night where Latino/a professionals talk to students and their parents about college and their careers
The College Graduates
In 2015, three former students returned to their community with university diplomas that will springboard them into graduate schools and fulfilling careers. They are the first college graduates in the last seven years.
Effects on Mentors and Teachers
“They can tell I’m not an adult authority, so they don’t mind telling me a silly story sometimes when I’m helping them. They have someone they can goof off with a little bit and still learn from.”
“It was really helpful to have somebody help you understand in a 1:1. I learned some easier methods in math. It made an impact because some of the math stuff I didn’t even know how to do it or I wouldn’t understand it—until now that I got some help. This whole algebra 1 isn’t as hard as I made it for myself. This help I’ve been getting is really great, it’s something I will carry on for the rest of my life.”
Director of Pescadero Elementary:
“The younger kids develop close relationships with their college mentors. They start to see themselves going to college like the big kids. Whenever we have the older students here, the kids always have a thousand questions about college. That’s already a huge impact.”
Each quarter 11-14 bilingual college students from UC Santa Cruz travel to Pescadero elementary, middle and high schools twice a week to provide one-on-one tutoring and support to elementary, middle and high school students. The program has grown and been sustained since 2012.