New York City | Meet Carla Bonilla: Mother, Volunteer, Advocate

April 1, 2018 | Regional Spotlight

By Liz John, Executive Director, PowerMyLearning New York City

At PowerMyLearning, we have an incredible team of volunteers who help drive our mission forward to strengthen the learning relationships between students, families, and teachers. This month, we want to introduce you to Carla Bonilla, a mother of three whose story exemplifies the impact of our work in New York City.

A couple months ago, Carla received a call inviting her and her daughter, Alina, to attend PowerMyLearning’s Family Learning Workshop at P.S. 567 Linden Tree Elementary in the Bronx.

Not too long after, we had the pleasure of meeting Carla at our offices as a volunteer!

Carla knew that Alina would receive a computer loaded with educational software at the workshop. However, Carla didn’t realize how much she’d learn about her daughter and how to support her learning.

Afterward, we talked to Carla about her Family Learning Workshop experience and what prompted her to want to help give other families that same feeling.

What stuck with you about the workshop?

I was very impressed. What impressed me most was the idea of helping those who are less fortunate–giving families both tools and the knowledge on how to use those tools to help their children.

It’s easy for parents to forget about schoolwork or not know how to get involved, and just let their child do the work alone. I think it’s the parents’ responsibility to help educate their child; it’s more than just the teachers, and just the school–it’s teamwork.

I have so many friends at that school whose children never had a computer at home. We had a family computer at home, so everyone had to take turns. Alina’s face lit up when she saw her personal computer. Now, she loves showing my husband and me what she is doing in class and we can do different activities together.

What made you decide to volunteer?

The workshop inspired me. I want other families to have the same opportunity. I can also give my personal perspective to the families I speak with, answering questions that I had myself before the workshop. A lot of families need Spanish-speaking facilitators, which I am able to do.

I’ve been volunteering a lot in my daughter’s school as well, which is great because I get to know their teachers and the principal. Now, everyone there knows me already. It is good for my daughter to see me involved and she feels that school is important. Because mommy is putting in time to learn about her school, she feels like she should do well, and she is.

Have you noticed any changes in your daughter’s learning after working with PowerMyLearning?

I recently noticed a big change in my daughter. She loves writing, but she never really spent much time on her work. And then she got her little laptop and now she’s writing whenever she feels inspired. She goes into her bedroom and writes what she’s feeling. I think that having a personal laptop is one of the reasons she’s writing a lot more than usual.

She also shares her animal writings that she is working on. In fact, she is working on a book/short paper right now about animals, just because she loves to write and now has the chance to do it when she wants.

 An excerpt from Alina’s book about dogs, called Doguments

What are your goals for Alina?

My daughter sees that education is very important to me, and I know that she will be successful in life if she finishes what she starts. The goals I have for my child are that I want her to finish school, go to college, and get a career.

My husband and I weren’t able to finish college–we started but we never finished–so we want my three kids to do it. We want them to have that opportunity and to be able to work in a field that they love. That’s what we want for them.

We are all gearing towards that goal—Alina, my husband, and I. She actually already knows what college she’s going to. She decided she wants to go to New York University.

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We are incredibly grateful to Carla and all of our volunteers, who are helping us empower students, families, and teachers every day.