(See this article in the Las Cruces Sun News)

Mary Parr-Sanchez, vice president for the National Education Association New Mexico and a teacher for 25 years, said she became involved in Ngage New Mexico, a Las Cruces based nonprofit organization, and the SUCCESS! Partnership more than a year ago to help bring teachers, nurses and education employees into the conversation of enhancing education for children in Doña Ana County.

Parr-Sanchez currently serves as the vice chair of the SUCCESS! Partnership’s leaders circle. The partnership is an education initiative launched in March 2014 and comprised of parents, teachers, students, organizations and community leaders working to support education in Doña Ana County. Ngage serves as the backbone for the partnership, assisting with facilitation, venues, materials, coordination and guidance.

“Being a part of the SUCCESS! Partnership has taught me that we are lucky to live in a community where so many people really want to see children succeed,” Parr-Sanchez said. “That being said, the partnership has also taught me that the schools can’t work in isolation from the community. The community needs to work better together so that we don’t replicate or leave out critical services to our children.”

Ngage, formerly known as the Institute for Community Engagement, was formed in 2009, but really started to take off and grow in 2014 when the organization received more funding and launched the partnership, said Ngage Executive Director Frank López.

The SUCCESS! Partnership outlines 10 community goals, as part of an agenda developed at a meeting April, that focuses on supporting all children’s success in school and life from pre-natal to career. The community goals, or action networks, include early childhood education, high school completion, post-secondary access and success, educational workforce development and others.

López said the idea behind the partnership is that education is a shared responsibility and that each sector, ranging from parents, teachers and students to nonprofits, businesses and child care providers, all play a significant role in supporting education.

“The SUCCESS! Partnership is more than one organization,” López said. “It’s representative of every stakeholder throughout the whole county.”

One example of how the business sector can support education is by letting an employee leave work to attend a parent-teacher conference without docking them pay, López said.

“An education friendly business does that kind of thing for their employees and it also thinks about the struggles of parents,” he said.

López said one of the things that makes the SUCCESS! Partnership unique is that it’s not school driven, student driven or parent driven.

“It’s really community wide, and we’ve now had at least three large community convenings, bringing all sectors together,” he said.

Currently one of the main focuses of the partnership is on early childhood education.

“Within the first five years of a child’s life, they’re learning capacity and their ability to learn and grasp things is at its peak, so it’s in those years that, as a community, we can affect all of our children’s lives, if we’re focusing on early childhood education,” López said.

Early childhood education committee leaders are working on a plan for the county that outlines seven long-term strategy goals, including establishing an early childhood learning center and increasing public awareness about the importance of early childhood development, López said.

Leaders and partners are also focusing on raising awareness about Ngage and the SUCCESS! Partnership.

“We recognize that a lot of people don’t know what the SUCCESS! Partnership is at this point,” said Ngage Director of Education Initiative David Greenberg. “It’s just been since April now that we have a community agenda and so it is critical to make sure that everyone in the community understands the agenda and understands the importance of rallying around the agenda, so we can actually make change and move the needle for kids who are every day falling through the cracks.”

Through awareness, Greenberg said they also hope to change the narrative around education.

“So often when you talk to people about education, everybody has someone to blame and we’re saying don’t blame someone else, let’s all, as a community come to the table and work together collectively to take on our own responsibility and recognize that we all have a role to play and that the schools can’t do it alone,” he said. “No one teacher can do it alone. No one parent can do it alone. It takes the business sector with the health sector with the judicial sector with the schools and the higher education to say this is how we’re going to work together, and that’s what we’re facilitating.”

For more information or to get involved in the SUCCESS! Partnership, visit successdac.org. For more information about Ngage, visit NgageNM.org or call 575-521-1957.

Alexia Severson may be reached at 575-541-5462.

If you go
Ngage New Mexico and the SUCCESS! Partnership

Where: 3880 Foothills Road, Ste. A

Info: Visit NgageNM.org, successdac.org, call 575-521-1957 or email info@ngagenm.org

Social media: Visit Ngage New Mexico on Facebook

Upcoming: Gala celebration and fundraiser, hosted by Ngage, will be 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at Courtyard of Patina Home Business on the downtown mall, at the corner of 300 N. Main St. and Las Cruces Ave. Event will honor the recipients of the Education Champion Awards. Food, entertainment, dancing and cash bar available. Ticket price: $50. RSVP to Martha Toltecatl at 575-521-1957 or martha@ngagenm.org.