Rodolfo came to the Together We Learn Program in the Bachman Lake area labeled by doctors as non-participatory, not very functional, and possibly autistic. At the beginning of the program, teachers remember him standing most of the class and facing the window. They were patient with him and communicated with his mother daily. In addition, teachers connected Rodolfo’s family with therapy options.
In time, this non-verbal child became a student who could name an entire box of magnetic letters. Rodolfo returned to the program the following summer and was the brightest in the class. Currently, he attends St. Monica School on scholarship.
Highlighting successes such as Rodolfo, former Program Manager Sadie Funk believes that the best part of her job is witnessing transformation within entire families. “With a child, it is amazing to see the ‘light bulb’ turn on…to watch him or her grow into a being that understands and interacts. We see an equal transformation in parents who—due to a host of issues including immigration—are sometimes scared to leave the house. Parents who were not confidant and did not know anyone in the neighborhood make friends and blossom through our program. We see this self-confidence building the entire family,” she said.
The Together We Learn Program opened in 2010 as part of the Zero to Five Funders Collaborative’s efforts to equip and support families in the Bachman Lake area. Less than half of the area’s children enter kindergarten adequately school ready and half of all families are single-parent with multiple children. Composed of 26 funders, the Collaborative awarded Catholic Charities and three other organizations a five-year grant to serve families in the area. Catholic Charities’ Together We Learn Program targets language skills for 0-5 year-old children. It currently serves 160 children and 120 parents in a trans-generational literacy program. One way, dual-language education is provided to 100% native Spanish speakers, four days a week for a period of five months. Graduates of the program may join the Bridging the Gap Program, which meets twice a week.
When the program is in session, children and parents are separated for instruction. Parents are given three hours of teaching, with two hours devoted to life skills instruction in English. All participating families have free access to the program as well as free counseling, free cooking-classes, and other enrichment programs such as nutrition classes and field trips. In addition, the program provides a six-week summer session. “Our summer program gets families out of the apartment and into a place where they are able to beat the heat and continue the educational trajectory,” Funk said.
With its opening of a new campus in the Bachman Lake community, Uplift Education joins a host of organizations working for the educationally underserved in the area. Teaming with programs such as Together We Learn helps Uplift Education support the entire scholar from “cradle to career.”
Enrollment requirements include proof of address and a current vaccine chart for each child. Contact Program Manager Maria Gonzalez firstname.lastname@example.org
The Together We Learn program seeks to provide families with a quality early childhood program in a safe, nurturing environment. We strive to give each child the opportunity to grow and develop socially, physically, and cognitively in a stimulating and caring place. Together We Learn is a program of Catholic Charities. Motivated by the teachings and love of Jesus Christ, Catholic Charities of Dallas serves, advocates for, and empowers people in need regardless of race, religion, age, gender, or national origin and calls the community to action.