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Scecina representatives attend Latino Enrollment Institute at Notre Dame


 Ivette Clinger (left) and Miriam Medina attended the Latino Enrollment Institute's summer conference at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

National data suggest Latinos are both the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. Catholic Church and the most underserved by Catholic schools, according to the University of Notre Dame. At Scecina, Latino enrollment has increased to 30 percent of the total student population for 2018-19. How do we welcome these Latino students and their families? 

To find some answers, three people from Scecina attended the seventh annual Latino Enrollment Institute conference at Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) operates the Latino Enrollment Institute. 

The summer conference helped more than 190 school leaders “learn strategies to create culturally-responsive classrooms, events, and policies, to support English language learners, to recruit and retain new students, and to fortify the school’s long-term financial stability.” During the school year, participants complete online discussion modules and receive support from a mentor principal at another school. 

President Joe Therber, Director of Enrollment Management Miriam Medina, and Tuition Assistant and Latino Contact Ivette Clinger attended the summer session. 

Ms. Medina and Mrs. Clinger, who are native Spanish speakers, regularly assist Scecina’s Spanish-speaking families in navigating school processes. Scecina is a pilot school for the Latino Outreach Initiative of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and also has started a Madrinas Model program to reach out to Hispanic and Latino families. (Click her to read more about the Madrinas Model.) Ms. Medina said the LEI conference made an impact on her because she was happy to learn that schools desire and are committed to cultivating a welcoming environment for the growing Latino and Hispanic populations. 

“Attending the Institute allowed us to be introduced to what this ministry looks like,” she said. “It also allowed us to meet other schools who are actively ministering to the Latino and Hispanic community. We were able to walk away with a mentor who has experienced a growth of Latino students in his or her school, resources, and friends throughout the country.” 

Mrs. Clinger said she was impressed that the program director was Hispanic, which gave her confidence in the program. 

“The most significant thing for me was the emphasis the Institute puts on making the Latino culture known and having a better understanding and connection with other cultures,” she said. “Also as a Latina and living for years here, the institute helped me reconnect with my roots and customs of my country.” 

With the growing Latino population at Scecina, Mrs. Clinger said, “we have to offer a better service, understand them and speak their language. By doing this, families will feel welcome and will participate more with the school and their student.” 

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