Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/news/8866.php

2 schools Mexican institute join to form learning center
By Carmen Duarte

Two Sunnyside Unified School District schools have received a state grant to form a community learning center in conjunction with an educational institute in Mexico.

The center opens Feb. 17 at Drexel Elementary School, 801 E. Drexel Road, and is aimed at increasing the use of computers among Spanish-speaking parents of Drexel and Summit View elementary school students.

Principals Lorena Escárcega of Drexel and Roxana Sanders of Summit View, 1900 E. Summit St., were awarded a $25,000 grant each year for three years that will provide supplies for the center and a tutor and coordinator for the program.

Twenty-five parents have signed up for the program, which includes four-month online courses through the Institute of Superior Technological Studies of Monterrey, said Christina Hernandez, a technology teacher at Drexel who will coordinate the center's program in the school's computer lab.

Escárcega said the program also aims to get parents involved in their children's learning, and for parents to think about taking college courses.

The institute will offer free general-studies courses online; students seeking degrees must pay for classes, Hernandez said.

Anna Ochoa O'Leary, an adjunct lecturer at the University of Arizona Mexican-American Studies and Research Center, said the institute is a private university formed by businessmen that has a reputation in Mexico similar to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's reputation in the United States.

O'Leary sits on the board of Fundacion Mexico, a local nonprofit organization that promotes culture, history and language of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. She said the group is a liaison for the institute and the new community learning center at Drexel.

There are 59 centers in the United States - 50 in Texas. Arizona State University and Rio Salado Community College in the Phoenix area are working to open centers, O'Leary said. She said students interested in international studies or working in Mexico could earn degrees from the institute through online courses.

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