DES MOINES, Iowa – One Des Moines Public School is becoming the first in Iowa to offer a leadership program to its Latino students.
“Latinos in Action” is a national non-profit that started in a Utah classroom back in 2001. Its goal is to bridge the graduation and opportunity gap for Latino students in the school system.
East High School Spanish teacher Ruby Herrera said, “The goal for these high school students is that we get them to see beyond high school. To see them being successful and to define what success is to them. We want to make sure that they see the talent within themselves.”
The program focuses on four pillars, which include: leveraging personal and cultural assets, excelling in education, serving the community, and developing leadership skills.
Students have to be nominated by a teacher to apply to the program. The program is being offered at East High School beginning the 2019-2020 school year.
Herrera said only 35 students will be in the program for the first year, but GPA does not matter.
“We have 30 percent of the students will be high achievers, the ones that are out there, honor roll and so forth. We have the invisible, the 40 percent that are invisible. They go through the motions, they are there. Then, we have the other 30 percent which is the untapped potential. This could be anywhere from the ELL learner the struggle student,” Herrera said.
East High School Junior Caroly Coronado-Vargas is one of over 160 students who have applied for the program. If accepted, she is excited to work within the community.
“I heard that we are going to go to elementary schools and read with students, so that was pretty interesting because I do think that getting them involved and being able to serve our community does start at the elementary school level,” Coronado-Vargas said.
LIA is in more than 200 schools across the country, serving over 10,000 students.
DMPS is paying for the program through different funding sources, many coming from grants.
Students will know Friday whether they are in the leadership program for the following school year.