It’s nearly 7 p.m. and Lincoln Middle School in Passaic is bustling with activity. In the cafeteria, families are enjoying a catered meal and learning about community health resources. In the gymnasium, a licensed optometrist is offering free vision screenings. This free health fair is just another event expertly implemented by the Education Association of Passaic FAST team.
Families and Schools Together (FAST) is a coalition of education advocates, community groups, and schools working together to foster family involvement in education. The goal of the FAST program is to encourage families to be involved in their children’s education, to enhance their children’s academic progress, and to feel welcome in public schools.
“We started the FAST program in January and have been offering two classes a month for parents. We’ve gotten a tremendous response,” said FAST Chair Loretta Bradley. The first two parent classes addressed bridging the cultural gap and self-esteem. Additional classes focused on the nationally-acclaimed MegaSkills program – a program designed to build high standards, habits, behaviors and attitudes that determine achievement in school and beyond.
Since many Passaic families are immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, Passaic Fast Team members Adriana Puentes and Rosa Espejo translate the workshops into Spanish.
The Passaic FAST team conducted a Multicultural Fair to celebrate the diversity of Passaic City. The team is also working closely with two area churches with hopes of branching out to include more places of worship this fall.