Study, awards presented at luncheon

ROCHESTER — A study on the needs of local Latino students was unveiled during the keynote address at the 42nd-annual Ibero-American Action League annual luncheon and recognition awards.

Judy Márquez Kiyama and Donna Harris, assistant professors of educational leadership from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education who led the study, presented their research team’s findings during the Oct. 14 luncheon. The Warner school also received the agency’s "Friend of the Year Award" during the event.

"The University of Rochester’s commitment to the betterment of the community is truly commendable," said Hilda Rosario Escher, Ibero’s president and chief executive officer. "It is absolutely critical to identify what our youth are thinking … the things that inform their decisions."

The work reflects a "call to action" that began in 2008 when the Warner staff began discussions with Ibero to develop this study, which included focus groups with Latino families and students, Márquez Kiyama said. The professors also said that the presentation was phase one of its work, and future reports looking at such topics as violence among Latinas will be released.

"Latino families have experiences that need to be heard … a great wealth of knowledge we can use," she added.

Jean-Claude Brizard, superintendent of the Rochester City School District, said that the district welcomes the attention paid to its Latino students. The report references data provided by the district, which will continue to work with Ibero on implementing the report’s recommendations. The report may be found at www.iaal.org/index_5_2848874851.pdf.

"We are all working to do what is right for our students," Brizard stated in an e-mail. "We have already made systemic changes to better track students who are chronically absent and re-engage them in school. Our challenge now is to ensure we have the programs and people in place to meet the varied needs of our Latino population."

That call to action on how to increase educational success for Hispanics also was addressed on a federal level last month. More than 300 experts in such areas as early childhood learning to higher education gathered Oct. 18 for a National Education Summit and Call to Action in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama has set 2020 as the goal for the nation to reach the highest college attainment rate in the world, according to a White House press release. On Oct. 19, President Obama signed an executive order, Educational Excellence for Hispanics, in a ceremony at the White House.

In Rochester, several community leaders also were honored during the Ibero ceremony. Luisa and Wim Baars received the "Alicia Torres Award" for their years of volunteer service in the community.

"They have served as positive role models, motivated by the kindness of their hearts and … have expected nothing in return," said Roberto Burgos, president of Ibero’s board of directors.

Augustin Meléndez, Eastman Kodak Co.’s director and vice president of human resources, received the "Volunteer of the Year Award" for serving as chairman of Ibero’s first capital campaign last year.

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