A Latina Mother’s Perspective: How School Leaders Can Prepare Students for Success

By: Veronica Cohetero, Familias Latinas Por La Educación Alum

Back-to-school season is here. As a parent it brings with it a renewed sense of excitement, but also more responsibility, nervousness, and stress. As I reflect on the time my children spent outside of the classroom this summer, I can’t help but feel simultaneously eager and anxious for their return to school. 

On top of shopping for supplies, clothes, and other related tasks, I’ve had to worry about my kids overcoming learning gaps that have been exacerbated by summer break. I  know that they were not offered proper education enrichment opportunities over the summer and I’m not the only parent who feels this way. 

In response to these concerns, there are three areas that Houston Independent School District leadership should have on their radar to ensure that these issues do not continue through the school year and into next summer

As a mom of students with special needs, one of my biggest priorities is finding summer programs and after school programs in my community that allow my children to advance academically. It is also one of my greatest difficulties. Students with special needs must have the opportunities to experience high-quality and hands-on programs when they’re out of the classroom that benefit their education, motor skills, and overall development. 

Over the last two years we have seen that the academic progress of thousands of special needs students is suffering because they are having a difficult time making up for lost ground after the pandemic. Access to out-of-school time programs can help mitigate those losses. 

Secondly, these programs must be accessible and affordable for all families. As a mom of three kids in a one-income household, finding cost-conscious out-of-school time programs, is challenging. 

Many families across Houston ISD do not have the financial means to pay for summer and afterschool activities that keep their kids fully engaged and learning, especially households with more than one child. As for working parents, it can also be difficult to have the capacity to meticulously search for programs that adequately support academic growth. 

Lastly, providing services that prioritize the well-being and mental health of students is critical to their academic success, especially after they return to school from summer break. A lot can happen in a child’s life during the summer month, and their disconnect from the classroom often means that teachers and school leaders don’t know about the changes students are going through in their lives. At the same time, returning back to school can be intimidating and stressful for students who might have special needs or who are bullied in the classroom. Schools need to provide a nurturing and welcoming environment for students as they return to school, and provide them with the mental health services they need in case they experience difficulties transitioning back into the classroom.

While there is a lot of excitement to see my children return to school, pick out their backpacks and school supplies, and drop them off that first day of school – I know there is also a lot of anxiety for parents. That is why it’s important that teachers, school leaders and parents work together to ensure those first few days of school for students are exciting, nurturing and welcoming – so they can be set up to succeed.


Veronica Cohetero is a mother of two students at Houston ISD, and a Familias Latinas Por La Educación alum from the Gulfton cohort.