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On Tuesday, Bedford Elementary School was abuzz with children, even though school has been out now for a couple weeks.
The school is hosting the Trimble County Migrant Education summer program, which is intended to help children of families who have moved into the district within the past three years. Activities are designed to help children, from preschool and beyond, advance in learning the Kentucky core curriculum.
The federally funded program was established in Trimble County in 1966. For the past 12 years, BES guidance counselor Jeff Vincent has been coordinating the program.
“I fell in love with it. This is the most rewarding job,” Vincent said Monday. “It’s a great program and offers a lot of resources for people that need it. The families I work with are great people.”
On the educational side, Vincent said the program uses academic computer games, problem-solving and direction-following projects and fitness games. Children also get to go on field trips they may not otherwise have the chance to experience. Their parents may travel with them, too.
This summer, trips are set for Carter Caves to learn map-reading skills; for in basic math exercises, they will take in a Louisville Bats game. They also will go swimming, and high school age children in the program recently went to Washington, D.C.
Vincent said the program contacts possible participants through school surveys, or by visiting local farmers to see if they have hired any migrant workers for the season.
During the school year, the program usually has about 50 students enrolled; about 15 students participating in the summer program.
To be clear, Vincent emphasized that the program has nothing to do with immigration. “We don’t want to know if they’re documented or not,” he said. “We just want to help these families.”
Migrant advocates, such as Vincent, keep in touch with participating migrant families about once a month. They are more involved with children, by tracking student’s grades and attendance records, helping with tutoring or donating school supplies for families in need.
They also help adult family members enroll in English as a Second Language classes or work toward their GED.
“My assistant, Mario Caudillo helps translate with families,” Vincent said. “We have a good working relationship.”
This week migrant students get to interact with children participating in the summer program are attending Pupil Enrichment Program (PEP) Week at Bedford Elementary. Family resource and youth services center coordinator Denise Hall said PEP Week has 60 children from kindergarten to fifth grade enrolled. PEP continues through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
“Some kids need extra help during the summer, we try to do things here that they don’t get in school. The kids love it, it’s a lot of fun,” Hall said, adding that combining the two programs is very useful. “It is so important that the migrant children have these interactions.”
The Migrant Program, Trimble Cares Coalition and Community education are three groups that help fund PEP Week.