South Omaha Learning Community Center Focuses On Literacy

We all want to help our kids get ahead in school but some of us are struggling just to get our children up to pre-kindergarten readiness.

Couple that with a language barrier in talking with teachers, and it's easy to see why some children in poorer areas struggle in school.

But that's changing thanks to a new help center for families.

Maria Garcia used to be embarrassed. She had a hard time talking with her children's teachers, couldn't help with homework and basically felt like an outsider.

But those feelings are now in the past.

“Now, I go to the teacher, I conversation, I understand,” she said. “It's very very different.”

Maria and her children now frequent the South Omaha Learning Community Center.

It's an educational center aimed at improving literacy in a section of town where many struggle with speaking and understanding English.

“It's opened the door for me because I understand more when the teachers say something, I understand, now I don't need the translator for the Spanish,” she said. “This place is good for me, but not just for me but for all moms.”

Diana Soto agrees. She also feels more a part of the larger community picture.

“When I go to the library, I read the books in Spanish and they don't understand me,” she said. “And now I read in English and they understand me now.”

Both women are also now able to help their children with homework and get the full benefit of parent/teacher conferences.

Andrea Skolkin of One World Community Health Center said the family literacy program has wide sweeping benefits for everyone in the Learning Community.

“Teaching the parents English helps them with their children, the children are more engaged, more apt to succeed in school,” she said. “Those kids are the future of Omaha and the future leaders and they will be employees in companies and leaders and we need their families engaged in education and this is a new way to do that.”

The center at 23rd and M is just a start and so far a proven success at helping these mom's help their children and themselves.

“Now I am not embarrassed, I talk to people,' Maria Garcia said. “I felt it's good for me.”

And the entire community.

The South Omaha center currently helps 170 families with literacy issues.

Another family center is due to open soon in north Omaha. This one will mainly focus on early childhood development.

Incidentally, the service is free.

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