Soledad Leticia Moreno
Rowland Adult and Community Education
Nominated in 2019
Soledad Leticia Moreno (also known as Leticia) came to California from Mexico 13 years ago. She is married and has two children. Her son is 10 years old and her daughter is 9. When Leticia first came to America, she stayed home for 10 years raising her two kids. Her son has autism and needed a lot of help, so she says that it was good she was able to be at home. It has been very difficult for Leticia taking care of her son because of his condition. Looking back, she says, "The most difficult part of taking care of my son was making sure he was safe. I needed to make sure he didn’t get into an accident. I felt like I needed to watch him all the time. I am happy to be there for my son. I have dedicated myself to help him in his development."
During two of these years, Leticia also worked as a caregiver for a senior through an agency called Comfort Care, working 14 hours per week. She went to an elderly person’s apartment each day for four hours to help with daily activities. Each day, she would cook breakfast, do the laundry, make the bed, talk, and watch TV. On some days, she would help with other needs such as taking a shower. She supervised daily activities and provided assistance when the senior needed it.
Last year, Leticia finally felt it was time she could start studying because her son was older now. She studied for six months in a HiSET Preparation class at another adult school. It was difficult for her since she was taking care of two kids and worked part-time as a personal caregiver, but she still spent six months going to class for 16 hours per week because she thought she had to do it! She passed all the subjects except for the writing, so that's when she came to Rowland Adult and Community Education and came to our Friday Distance Learning class. This class meets just once a week on Fridays at Leticia's kids' school (Hollingworth Elementary School).
Leticia came to the Distance Learning program to get help with her HiSET writing, but she would find out something that would be very key to her future. The first day when Leticia came to class and filled out her registration form, we noted that she had finished college in Mexico - a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. When she told us that she came to my class to get help with her HiSET writing, we felt really disappointed that nobody at the other adult school noted her education and told her she didn't necessarily need to get a U.S. diploma. Our heart sank, realizing what a sacrifice she had made of her time and herself preparing and taking the tests in the midst of her busy-enough life as a mom. So during the following few Fridays, we got to know Leticia and her various interests and desires for her future. Since she was interested in teaching young kids, we explored together possible jobs she could prepare for within elementary education. The key for Leticia was that she has her high school diploma and a college degree from Mexico, both of which are acceptable here for career and further schooling. She just needed to get her diplomas validated for most institutions.
So after exploring options, three possible career tracks emerged: being a bilingual instructional assistant, being a substitute teacher, or being a math and Spanish teacher in a dual-immersion school.
Leticia already had all of the qualifications for being an instructional assistant except for six months of experience working with children within an institutional setting. Thankfully, our district has a Family Resource Center which is incredible. We were able to refer Leticia to Ms. Laurel Estrada, the coordinator for Rowland Unified School District's Family Resource Center, who was able to connect her to an opportunity to volunteer working with kids in the FRC’s Homework Club. This rare opportunity fulfills the volunteering requirement for the job and also will give Leticia a valuable experience working closely with kids. Since November of 2018, she has been tutoring kids in the Homework Club at Villa Corta Elementary School three days a week after school. She is almost at her six months mark!
For the second career option, working as a substitute teacher, Leticia would need to pass the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test). We looked at the practice tests online together a few weeks ago, and Leticia noted that it was very similar to the HiSET. She started studying for this test recently.
The third option would be a long-term goal for Leticia. In order to become a teacher in a K-12 district, Leticia would need to pass both the CBEST and CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers) in math and Spanish, and go through a two-year teaching training program.
Leticia decided to start with the most attainable for now (being a bilingual instructional assistant) and continue to prepare for one exam at a time, starting with the CBEST.
In the last several weeks, we have been focusing on specific skills Leticia would need to attain her goals: phone dialogues, job interviews, pronunciation, and academic writing.
In December of 2018, Leticia did pass the writing test part of the HiSET and got her High School Equivalency certificate. Even though she didn’t need it, she says she is glad she was able to finish it.
Leticia says, "My family is my most important motivation. I want my children to be proud of me. Whatever I do, I want to do my best."
Leticia truly does do her best in everything she puts her mind to. She is dedicated, persistent, positive, and assertive. Having Leticia as a student has been an absolute inspiration and blessing in our life. You will love meeting her!