PIQE program gives families tools to support children’s education journey

Family members show off their certificates at the Winters Middle School PIQE graduation ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

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Winters Joint Unified School District (Winters JUSD) offers the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) program so families are given the opportunity to not only take a hands-on approach to their child’s education but learn about the variety of ways they can help prepare them for their future.

Winters High School Principal John Barsotti
(center) and Superintendent Rody Boonchouy congratulates a Winters High School PIQE parent graduate. (Courtesy photo)

In March, 28 parents graduated from the Winters Middle School PIQE program and 33 parents graduated from the Winters High School PIQE program.

The PIQE program was created in 1987 by Rev. Vahac Mardirosian and Dr. Alberto Ochoa. They partnered up with San Diego Unified School District Superintendent, Tom Payzant to discuss the struggles and challenges parents were facing. Shortly thereafter, the PIQE program was formed and is currently in over 130 school districts across California and in 14 different states — as well as being offered in 16 different languages, including Spanish.

To date, PIQE has served more than 750,000 families and positively impacted 2.2 million students across California.

“The overall mission of the PIQE program is to have families gain the knowledge and tools and skills to ensure their children can reach their full potential and advance to higher education. Or, offer that support for whatever they decide to do after they graduate,” explained PIQE communication specialist, Shai Garcia-Mays. “But it’s about being that support system while they’re in school learning about GPA, learning about what their child’s learning and understanding the American school system.”

Essentially, the PIQE program is a nine-week, online class for middle school and high school parents to take once a week on Thursdays. For participating WHS familes, it’s not only a comprehensive overview of what their children are learning in school but a schooling on how to help their children out on every step of their educational journey and beyond.

Maricarmen Suarez, Winters JUSD Parent Engagement Coordinator, detailed out the lessons that start with an orientation where participating parents receive a book that will guide them through what they’ll be learning in the program. According to Suarez, the first two lessons touch on social/emotional learning, academic achievement and academic standards. The last two lessons explore universities and pathways to
secondary education, as well as financial aid options.

“The parents that I’ve spoken to have been very happy with this program. A lot of them maybe didn’t go to college and their kids are the first generation that will be going to college. So, they’re very grateful to learn about these steps and pathways to college so they can help their kids,” Suarez said.

Since its implementation at Winters JUSD, the PIQE program has made a positive impact on the community’s families.

“In my graduation speech, I talked about how hard it was with my first child to get her different kinds of financial aid because I didn’t know what was out there or what the programs were. For me, it was so amazing to learn what was out there through the PIQE program. Now with my son going through high school, I feel like I’m ready to be there for him when he’s ready to graduate and continue with a career and help get him the funds he needs,” said Maria Elena Campos, a WHS parent PIQE participant. “I loved being able to meet other parents in the program. My other favorite part is that there’s a lot of support for the parents and the kids as well. And I think parents should do this program because they’ll learn a lot. Like how to get help when they need it with their kids, they’ll be more involved with them and they’ll also learn how to read grades and progress reports and tests. PIQE has made a big difference.”

With a focus on the overall success of the district’s students, staff and families, Winters JUSD Superintendent Rody Boonchouy said he is delighted at the boon the PIQE program is to that success.   

“It’s important that we help our families understand the complexities of navigating the school system and the journey towards higher education. PIQE provides workshops on topics like the importance of attendance, communication with teachers, principals or counselors; how to read report cards, or to understand course scheduling and the A–G system to become eligible for colleges and universities. Ultimately, programs like this help parents and educators become better partners in supporting students to be successful in school, college, career and life,” said Boonchouy.

Information about the next opportunity to participate in the PIQE program at Winters schools will be shared with families soon.

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