Libanesa is a mom of two who works as a dental hygienist. Her younger son, Matthew, recently began fourth grade as a new CSF Scholar at Sacred Heart School in the South Bronx.
As a parent, I want the best for my children. They see that I push hard for their education. I’m not just telling them to push hard, I’m giving them the example.
I myself came here at 13 from the Dominican Republic, and I had to repeat seventh grade because I didn’t know English. I went to a public high school here in the South Bronx and then to Hostos Community College to study dental hygiene. I did whatever I could do because there are more opportunities in the U.S.
Now I’m always trying to get my kids opportunities. I always email teachers, ‘Please send me the syllabus for the week. Does he have a project?’ Because kids are kids. You have to go speak to the teachers. You have to be aware. If you are not aware of what’s available, you will limit your child, and there are so many programs out there that will help your child become a great student and a successful adult.
The neighborhood school my son Matthew went to since Kindergarten was good at first. They have great teachers and long hours, so it’s convenient for working parents, and my older son, Kevin, went there too. But there were a couple of issues with behavior – things he was learning that he shouldn’t know by the age of nine – and that was like a red flag. I said I had to do something different, so I applied to Sacred Heart School when he was starting fourth grade.
Sacred Heart is like a family. Everybody’s very welcoming and helpful. From what I see, they treat each kid like their own. As a parent, that’s what we want. I think Matthew will take more advantage of learning since discipline will not be something the teacher has to constantly work on. And also the curriculum itself is very intense, which will challenge him to become a better student.
Besides the academics, at Sacred Heart they have violin, which Matthew enjoys. He likes to play chess, and they have a chess team. He used to take violin lessons on Saturdays at the community center, but now I won’t have to pay extra for these activities. Also, we live two minutes away from the school, so it’s the best choice for us.
When I first went to apply, I told the secretary I’m a single mom and Kevin doesn’t qualify for any scholarships at his high school, so I needed some help with tuition. She advised me to fill out a CSF application and see if I qualify, and, thankfully, we did.
Matthew is already talking about college. We’re looking at Duke University. They have a pretty great medicine and science program. But I was looking at the tuitions, and they’re so expensive. Fifty thousand dollars – that’s the most popular number I’ve seen! Matthew says to me, ‘Mom, that’s a lot of money, I’m going to owe a million dollars.’ I told him no, there are ways for you to reach that million dollar bill through scholarships.
It’s going to be a financial burden, but school is an investment – it pays off in the end. As I always tell my children, the best inheritance I can leave them is education.