Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lupe Veloz: helping children to read

Lupe Veloz
by Rebecca Zanolini 
The endeavor to improve the quality of life for all residents is undoubtedly a collective effort between various members of our community. One such member who deserves to be highlighted for her efforts in helping those around her is Ms. Lupe Veloz.
I first had the pleasure of meeting Lupe some years ago at the Williamson County Public Library. I was in the children’s section with my young daughter when I overheard a friendly library employee assisting an individual in Spanish. Her commitment to helping the patron and clear passion for her job caught my attention. After introducing myself to her, I learned I was speaking with Lupe Veloz.
After witnessing several similar occasions of Lupe’s efforts in assisting both Spanish and English speaking patrons, I finally asked her what made her so passionate about her job and her community. This is what she told me.
Lupe Veloz, daughter of Mexican immigrants, grew up in the Los Angeles County area of California. With Spanish being the only language used in her home and community, it was not until first grade when she started going to school in the Los Angeles Unified School District that she began to learn English. She shared with me that her language barrier caused her to fail every subject in every grade all the way through the fifth grade.
Ms. Veloz credits both her mother’s support and her 6th grade teacher, Mr. Prescott for being the catalyst for her academic success. Mr. Prescott was able to identify that Lupe’s primary academic deficiency was a lack of literacy skills. Afraid that Lupe and peers like her would not be able to finish school, Mr. Prescott spent the following summer teaching Lupe and several of her classmates how to read. By the next academic term, Lupe’s scholastic progress had advanced so much that she was scoring at or above the level of her peers.
As an adult, Lupe’s love for reading and value for education and learning were undoubtedly shaped by her early academic experiences. As a mother, she has used Mr. Prescott’s example to educate all six of her children at home. Worth noting is that all of her children (with the exception of the youngest who is still in grade school), have gone on to higher education thanks to the preparation and lessons they received from their mother.
Lupe carries this passion into the work place as well as she tirelessly works to educate local schools and residents on the power of reading in both English and Spanish and the many resources the local library has to offer. Lupe is always ready to educate all who are willing to listen on how to better prepare our children for tomorrow. To this end, she laments the education gap between Latino youth as a group when compared to non-Hispanic whites, which she says both troubles her and motivates her to continue her mission.
To combat this disparity, Veloz emphasizes the need to foster early literacy skills in all children. She points to the power of services offered by local libraries such as summer reading programs to help bridge the gap. Throughout our interview, Lupe repeatedly emphasized the importance of reading and her sense of urgency to help all children gain the skills they need to succeed.
Finally, it is important to underscore once more how Lupe uses her personal and professional experiences on a daily basis to educate those around her, ultimately bettering the community for us all. Lupe Veloz truly is an inspiration to me and is always a pleasure to see on the first floor of the Williamson County Public Library. I invite all to come and meet this wonderful woman and partner with her on improving our community by promoting and fostering literacy skills with our youth one child at a time.
Special thanks to Lupe Veloz for allowing me this interview.

Contributor Rebecca Zanolini has written for about such diverse subjects as violence against women, Conexion Americas' new home Casa Azafranchildren in migration, the Super Bowlpaying taxes regardless of immigration statusYMCA Latino Achievers, the Metro Council Minority Caucus' Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, and her own "Costa Rican rebirth."  

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