Edwards nursery keeps teen moms in high school
Edwards, CO Colorado
EDWARDS, Colorado ” It’s lunchtime at Red Canyon High School, and junior Liz Mendoza walks across the street in Edwards, Colorado to June Creek Elementary to have lunch with her infant daughter, Lexy.
She feeds her, plays with her and talks with the other teen moms who have children at the school’s new nursery. It has made life a lot easier for Mendoza, who before the nursery opened, was often late for class while juggling her job and finding a baby-sitter for Lexy.
“I think a lot of girls might not go to school because of work and day care,” Mendoza said.
An infant care center for high school mothers has been a long-sought goal for Red Canyon principal Wade Hill. The reality is that many teenage girls drop out of school to take care of their kids, and he sees this as one way of helping them graduate. There are more than 40 teen mothers in the school district this year.
Mainly, this gets them over the big financial hurdle of day care, which most teen parents can’t afford, Hill said.
“If they are working to pay for child care, they aren’t coming to school,” Hill said.
It also ensures that qualified people are taking care of their kids, Hill said. The new nursery is run by a infant care specialist, Jody Enjes, and the other moms.
“They get to go to their high school classes, graduate and not have to worry about child care, which is a problem for any mom,” Enjes said.
That security really is comforting to the mothers, who like knowing that their child has a sitter every day, and that they’ll be able to attend school as planned. Flora Felix, who has her three-month-old son Ilann at the nursery, said she never liked the idea of leaving her child with strangers.
“This makes it a lot easier for a lot of us ” you know they’re in the same place every day, and they’re learning everyday,” Mendoza said.
Perla Gurrola is able to drop her three-year-old daughter Elizabeth off at the preschool, take her baby to the infant care nursery, then go to her own classes, all on the same block.
“I don’t have to worry who’s going to take care of him,” Gurrola said.
Red Canyon makes child care part of these new mothers’ education.
Twice a week, the girls have class time with their babies where they learn child-care fundamentals and how to really connect with the children, said McKinley Grimmer, teen parent coordinator for the school.
Grimmer also teaches a more in-depth and academic parenting class that focuses on some of the larger social issues in child care ” like how parents and their children deal with different sets of grandparents. The moms are also expected to help out with the babies. They’ll each work as interns in the nursery with Ejnes.
Grimmer is also working with the mothers to raise awareness about teen pregnancy with other students in the school district.
The moms are happy that they’ll not only get to graduate high school, but also have a good chance for college. Gurrola had thought of becoming a veterinarian, but now thinks she wants to be a preschool teacher. Felix says that after graduation, she’ll become a dental assistant.
The center received financial support from the school district and Bright Start, but will mostly be funded through a federal program that gives money to schools with low socio-economic standings, Hill said.
The nursery has five infants now under 18 months, and Hill hopes to someday have another room for toddlers open.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or email@example.com.
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