Celia and Jazmin
It’s another beautiful morning in Naples, Florida. Celia and I sit on a bench in the Grace Place playground as her three-year-old daughter, Jazmin, runs in circles around us.

Our attention shifts as Jazmin begins to loudly sing her A, B, C’s while she skips along, first in English, then in Spanish. I examine Celia’s face as she watches her young daughter. It’s not only love that is visible in her soft eyes and warm smile, it’s also pride.

A year and a half ago Celia first discovered Grace Place. A friend had told her about an organization in the neighborhood that helped families. She told her that Grace Place had educational programs for every family member and even one where she and Jazmin could learn English together. Celia quickly signed herself and Jazmin up for the Bright Beginnings program.

When Celia and Jazmin began, they were enrolled in the Beginnings 101 course. Celia was learning about Jazmin’s brain development, how even the smallest experiences were sculpting Jazmin’s mind and how she was her child’s first teacher.

Celia and Jazmin were both voracious for knowledge, and before long, the pair advanced to the Mom and Tot Literacy course. This was a big commitment for Celia, the course is four days a week. She didn’t hesitate for a moment. She knew how this would help her and her family.

Jazmin in Developmental Playgroup last summer.

Jazmin in Mommy and Me Developmental Playgroup last summer.


Her husband works construction and is often gone for long hours, leaving Celia with their four children for most of the day. “I am the one home with the children, taking them to where they need to go, talking to their teachers and doctors. They need me to help them grow up strong and smart. It was clear to me I needed to learn more English and improve my education, so I could help them. That is a mother’s job,” explained Celia.

Next week, Celia will graduate the Mom and Tot Literacy course. Grace Place’s adult education manager, Tara Barrett, had this to report on her time in the program. “Celia has truly flourished in the Mom and Tot Literacy course. Her strong determination and inquisitive nature have cemented her role as a leader and have propelled her progress both inside and outside of the classroom. She gives 110 percent to both her children’s academic success and to her own.”

Today we celebrate Celia, all of the Grace Place mothers and mothers around the world. We wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for being our first teachers.

You can support moms like Celia this summer, as they help their children prepare for Kindergarten. Make a gift to our Summer Kindergarten Readiness program and help our families beat the Summer Slide.