Ana Maria Nieto

2012 Radcliffe/Rappaport Doctoral Summer Fellow

May 24, 2012

Graduate School:Harvard Graduate School of Education
Undergraduate School:Los Andes University, Colombia
Areas of interest:Education
Mentors:Joan Wallace Benjamin, The Home for Little Wanderers and Antoniya Owens, Center for Education Policy Research
Placement:Somerville Public Schools
Supervisors:Sarah Davila, District Administrator of English Learner Education / Family and Community Partnerships
Project description:This summer Ana Maria worked with Somerville Public Schools in their adult education programing. As part of this district’s commitment to engage family and community members in children’s education, each year the English Language Learner (ELL) Program offers a 4 week-long free Summer Program for Somerville parents consisting of free English classes, workshops and parent gatherings. This year the program expanded to include weekly computer classes and bi-weekly literacy classes for parents and other community members, as well as a new program for families of English Language Learner transitioning from Head Start to kindergarten. During the summer Ana Maria was in charge of conducting the outreach for the new Head Start to school transition program. As the program started she helped coordinate and document the implementation process. More than 100 adults benefited from the summer program. The results from the documentation process signaled that Somerville’s efforts to strengthen relationships between parents are a fundamental step in increasing engagement with schools. The documentation process was also the starting point of an ongoing planning process that will continue to improve family and community engagement in this school district. In addition to her practical experience in program implementation and documentation her summer experience also gave her the opportunity to learn more about early childhood policies.

Ana Maria says "The Rappaport Fellowship program offered me an invaluable opportunity to work from the 'inside' of the system and learn more about local and state policies. Before applying for the Rappaport Fellowship I had a very vague idea of policies impacting young children’s wellbeing in the state of Massachusetts. My experience with the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative allowed me to work hand in hand with professionals who have been working in this area for decades. The Rappaport Fellowship also connected me to a mentor with extensive experience in social projects who was an inspiration and role model. My experience in the summer seminars provided me with the opportunity to learn from other fellows working in policy areas such as healthcare, public housing and urban planning that expanded my view even further."