Ready To Learn | Story of Success | Marta Castro
Through the Ready To Learn workshops, Marta learned“it doesn’t matter where I am, I can teach my children a lot of things.”
Five-year-old Abraham faced many obstacles when first he entered the world. His mother, Marta, recalled his doctor uttering the words no mother wants to hear: “Your child will not be normal. Prepare yourself because your son is going to be deaf.” Born premature at 35 weeks, Abraham’s skull was injured during childbirth, and he developed meningitis one month later. Miraculously, Abraham underwent successful surgery at six-months-old to repair the damage. Marta expressed relief, “At this point, his hearing and brain are fine…and he is a very intelligent boy for his age despite everything that he went through.” Marta now dreams of seeing Abraham and his 11-year-old brother, Daniel, graduate from a university and dedicates her time to enriching their education using Vegas PBS resources
To learn skills to help Abraham be ready for school, Marta estimates she has attended at least 20 Vegas PBS Ready To Learn (RTL) family engagement workshops through the Clark County School District Family and Community Engagement Services (FACES) program. These parent-child workshops help adults develop their child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills using PBS KIDS educational programs. Through the RTL workshops, Marta learned “it doesn’t matter where I am, I can teach my children a lot of things.” The workshops had a huge impact on Abraham “because now that he is in kindergarten, he is prepared.”
Clark County School District FACES Family Learning Advocate, Alicia Muñoz, describes Marta as “a wonderful parent—very dedicated to her children. She is always finding ways to move ahead in her education for herself.” Originally from Guatemala, Marta’s has been attending ESL classes to learn English and is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. “I have taken the time for my own personal growth and I want my children to grow as well.” She tearfully added, “I am not going to stop learning either…the way I have encouraged [my children] is the same way they encourage me to achieve my goals too.”
Marta frequently visits Sunrise Library with her sons and noticed the four, weekly Vegas PBS KIDS ScratchJr Code-to-Learn classes on the library’s summer calendar. Marta signed up “because everything is technology right now and my kids love technology.” By participating in the workshops with her children, Marta learned additional skills to support Abraham and Daniel’s learning at home, through the universal language of coding.
One of Marta’s “a-ha” moments occurred when families were challenged to create step-by-step instructions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This activity introduced the premise of coding: creating a sequence of instructions that tells a computer what to do. “We tell the kids do this and do that, but…we don’t give them step by step instructions,” Marta observed. Now, Marta jokingly says she “programs” her sons, providing specific instructions to help establish routines and expectations at home.
At the end of the third session of the program, Marta proudly watched as 5-year-old Abraham confidently raised his tablet screen before a group of ten of families. She was surprised that he was the first to volunteer to share the program he created. Two hand-drawn Pac Men appeared on the screen, chasing a red ghost with black villainous eyebrows. After a short pursuit in outer space, they captured the ghost in their sharp white teeth. The Pac Men audibly rejoiced, as the ghost vanished from the screen. “I never imagined that he could do that especially considering how old he is,” Marta revealed.
To extend learning beyond the workshops, Marta and her sons received eight new books for their home library and a new PBS KIDS Playtime pad pre-loaded with the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app and other PBS KIDS educational games and videos, enabling Abraham and Daniel to continue working on coding skills to bolster opportunities for their future. Marta expressed gratitude to all the individuals that make the Ready To Learn workshops possible. “Thank you to the teachers…I really appreciate all you do. Please continue to work with the kindness, love, and dedication that you have shown me.”
Marta’s story is only one of more than 170,000 parents and children we serve through these programs each year. Funding for the Family and Community Learning workshops and the take-home materials were provided by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but Vegas PBS relies on donations from community partners to support these unique initiatives, and to ensure that parents like Marta have access to the highest quality educational resources. Marta adds, “Thank you to the people that donate money, [it] is being put to good use.”