New America School to open a daycare center

New America School Principal Margarita Porter looks at some baby clothes donated to the school’s new daycare center.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF NEW AMERICA SCHOOL

 

New America School GRADS teachers Lorynn Guerrero, left, and Crystal Bridges visiting a local daycare center.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF NEW AMERICA SCHOOL

 

By Mike Cook

As New America School (NAS) looks forward to its 10th anniversary in Las Cruces, the state-chartered high school is adding a new daycare center so young parents, and especially new mothers, can spend time with their children while they attend school.

“We are beyond excited,” said NAS Principal Margarita Porter.

After the school’s governing board narrowed the list of possible names to three, NAS’ young parents selected the name New Beginnings in a Sept. 21 online vote, Porter said.

The daycare center is supported by the New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) GRADS (Graduation, Reality and Dual-role Skills) in-school program for expectant and parenting teens. GRADS helps high school students who are new parents identify barriers to success, “overcome the cycle of poverty by achieving a high school education and employability skills (and) develop positive parenting and healthy relationship skills,” according to https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us.

“Once again, NAS-LC is making a difference in our community,” Porter said. “We will be the only charter school in southern New Mexico (and possibly in the state) to have a childcare center for students,” she said. “We hope this will encourage them to graduate. We are also hoping this program will encourage other young parents who have dropped out to return to school.”

Because NAS is conducting all its classes online at present and is uncertain when on-campus learning will resume because of the health pandemic, the school plans to open the daycare center to students next January, Porter said. NAS staff will follow all NMPED and New Mexico Department of Health guidelines to ensure the health and safety of students and children in the daycare center and throughout NAS, NAS GRADS teacher Lorynn Guerrero said.

Both Guerrero and her fellow NAS-LC GRADS teacher, Crystal Bridges, were teen parents who benefitted from the Las Cruces Public Schools GRADS program, they said.

Among its 200 students, NAS has about a dozen teen parents enrolled at present, with a couple of additional new babies expected in late summer/early fall, Guerrero said. That includes some of the 10 girls who had been attending NAS last school year who didn’t return to classes after their children were born but have come back to take online courses at NAS. The staff expects their return to campus with their young children when the daycare center opens.

In August, NAS began renovating a 765-square-foot room on its first floor to use as the daycare center.

NAS will add to its 30-member staff with the hiring of a daycare director and assistant, Porter said. And, NAS will offer a new elective course to students who want to work in the daycare center.

The best way for the community to support the NAS daycare center is to contribute to the school’s community baby shower, Guerrero said. Donations of items like cribs, rocking chairs, bouncers, diapers, baby toys and other items would be welcome, Porter, Guerrero and Bridges said.

ABC Carpet of Las Cruces is providing the carpeting for the daycare center, and the state GRADS program is helping provide furniture.

The daycare center is “one more reason NAS is doing great things and helping students succeed,” Porter said.

New America School is located at 207 S. Main St. downtown.

To arrange a time to drop off a donation and for more information, contact Porter at 575-527-9085 and mporter@lcnas.org. Visit lcnas.org, www.nmgrads.org and https://webnew.ped.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/SHSB_GRADS-2017-2018data.pdf.