Commerce
8:56 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

New program brings vast opportunities to region

COMMERCE - The future for Hispanic families in Northeast Texas is bright thanks to the induction of a Mexican Consulate-sanctioned Community Plaza in Commerce.

Dignitaries from the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, Texas A&M University-Commerce and Commerce ISD participated in Monday's grand opening for the Plaza, which will be housed in A.C. Williams Elementary School. Dozens of Hispanic families that will benefit from English as Second Language classes were among the large group of community members present.

The purpose of the Plaza is to educate Hispanic young people and adults for success in life and work.

“I feel very happy to finally be able to bring some programs for the Mexican community here. Especially for the adults,” said Juan Carlos Cue Vega, Mexican counsel general for Dallas. “Many of them when they left Mexico they didn’t even finish their primary or elementary school. So for them it’s a good opportunity to have a place with resources, with volunteer people and with materials from the Mexican government to prepare themselves and obtain that education.”

Community volunteers including students from Texas A&M University-Commerce and CISD staff will provide one-on-one tutoring as well as group instruction. Maria Garza has been hired by CISD as a part-time coordinator of the Plaza. Using a program developed by the Mexican National Institute of Adult Education (INEA), she will conduct diagnostic tests and then prescribe an individual course of study using the online curriculum.

“It’s also good that we see the involvement of the whole community of Commerce by all the volunteers from Texas A&M University-Commerce. They will give their time and effort, which we appreciate very much because that will be a fantastic experience for them but also for all the people that will be learning,” Counsel General Vega added.

This is the 13th Plaza that the Mexican Consulate in Dallas has opened in the region, with hopes to continue to expand in North Texas. Commerce is the first Plaza outside of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.

After a lengthy approval process that included gaining permission from the Mexican ambassador, the CISD site finally got the go ahead to proceed in late September.

“This is a great example of the positive difference communities and organizations can have when their efforts come together for the benefit of others,” said Commerce ISD Superintendent Blake Cooper.

The first cohort of families will begin services on February 6. Services include tutoring in basic literacy, elementary and intermediate level education; English as a Second Language instruction, GED in Spanish preparation courses and citizenship classes.

Dr. Dan Jones, university president at A&M-Commerce said, “We [the university] were created for one reason; to make a difference in the life of a region… And this partnership, this project, is directly in keeping with the reason we exist.”

“This project is a blueprint for how such projects should be established and can be accomplished for the benefit of all of the community,” added Buddy Echols, executive director for Region 10 Education Service Center.

The Fusion Dance Group from Texas A&M University-Commerce performed in Ballet Folklorico style and a salsa and enchilada cooking contest was held as part of Monday's festivities.

Pictures from Monday's event are available through the A&M-Commerce Flickr page, courtesy of University Photographer Paul Bryan.