Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

Catching Up With the Migrant Education Program

Millersville University’s Migrant Education Program assists the families and students in Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading, Allentown and beyond.

Millersville University is dedicated to assisting the families of migrant workers, and one of the strongest resources is found in the Migrant Education Program. The program is committed to assisting migrant students and their families in overcoming difficulties they may face after moving to a new community and school district.

Looking to help as many families as possible, the Migrant Education Program has outreach well beyond the Millersville area, providing education and support services to eligible Pre-K through 12th-grade students in Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and the surrounding areas. These services include year-round after-school programs, Saturday and summer programs, customized tutoring, in-home instruction, leadership and development opportunities and a range of partner agencies and service providers in the region.

Director of Migrant Education David Baird notes that along with these support services for children, the program helps make a systemic change in the community as a whole. “There is a robust state, regional and local parent involvement system and leadership structure that orients and prepares parents and families to enhance academic success, increase high school graduation rates and improve preparedness for higher education and career development of participating students,” he says.

Since becoming director in 2021, Baird has worked to ensure that the Migrant Education Program remains community-based and focused. For the Lancaster area, this can include cultural enhancement events organized by the program’s Lancaster County Field Office, sometimes sponsored by the Ware Center and the Winter Center at Millersville University.

Team Leader of the Lancaster County Field Office Amanda Guzman explains that there are many opportunities for their students to attend these cultural and educational events. “We take students on college and educational field trips to museums, parks, zoos, etc. This year Lancaster and Lebanon took students to Lake Tobias and Zoo America, which aligned with our summer theme where we talked about animals from around the world” says Guzman. “We have college field trips during the school year and our big field trips during the summertime.”

Guzman says the impact of the program can be seen as students’ and parents’ awareness of the vast array of resources available to them in Lancaster grows. “We have programs in libraries, schools and different locations in Lancaster County which allow them to have a sense of familiarity with their surroundings and resources. When they attend our library programs, they can learn about how to access library cards, or when they attend our STEAM nights (science technology engineering, arts and mathematics), they can become familiar with the schools their children attend and want to participate more in their children’s education,” Guzman says.

“All it takes is us providing these programs and their knowledge expands, and they then start to become self-sufficient,” she continues. “That is the ultimate goal! We want our families to succeed in their communities. We show them the ropes and then let them do it on their own.”

For Baird and Guzman, the work they do with the Migrant Education Program is meaningful. “Our regional team is comprised largely of talented and experienced immigrants from all over the world, with personal experience that connects directly to our work together,” says Baird. “They understand the unique needs of the students, parents and families we serve, and how best to help them adjust to the educational systems in the US and PA. It’s more a vocation with a genuine sense of mission than employment for all of us, and it shows how we work together to help kids. It’s unique.”

Guzman says the most meaningful work is the impact the program has on its students and families. “The little things matter to them and are helpful. It makes a difference to how they succeed,” she explains. “The most rewarding aspect of our work is being able to say, ‘We made a difference.’ Everyone who works for migrants is in it because of the passion they have for helping our families.”

In addition to the resources the Migrant Education Program offers students and families, there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities available for Millersville students, both during the school year and over the summer. If interested, students can reach out to Amanda Guzman directly over email at Amanda.Guzman@millersville.edu.

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