Trailblazing Pasadena Group That Helps Parents Navigate Their Children’s Educational Journey Honors 4 Locals Today

Published : Saturday, April 13, 2019 | 4:13 PM

To be honored Sunday by the Pasadena Education Network (clockwise, from top left): Begonia Bautista, Scott Harden, Angie Uriu, Diane Orona.

When Pasadena public school parents’ concerns about their children’s homework reached the Pasadena Education Network several years ago, the group swung into action.

The result? PEN, as it’s called, can now claim responsibility for influencing Pasadena Unified’s current homework policies affecting thousands of students (and, needless to say, their parents).

“We facilitated a process to redo the homework policy that was eventually approved by the Board of Education,” said Nancy Rose Dufford, PEN’s executive director. “Something that we’re very proud of.”

PEN has a lot to be proud of as the group prepares for a Sunday fundraiser, its 11th annual Wine, Beer and Spirits Tasting.

This year it will be held at a home in East Pasadena and will honor parent volunteers Begonia Bautista Beltran, Scott Harden and Angie Uriu, while Diane Orono will receive the PEN Founders Award.

The more than 1,500-parent-strong network who send their children to Pasadena’s public schools started in 2006 as a group of 11 preschool families.

Nancy Dufford, PEN's Executive Director

“We work in three different spaces,” Dufford said. “We help parents with their transition to kindergarten and secondary school. We work with parents once they’re in PUSD to become more effective volunteers and leaders, at their school and in their district. [And] we work very closely with the PUSD leadership, to bring the parent voice to their decision-making — and advocate for parent engagement and on issues that are a broad concern to parents.”

Rather than an adversary, PEN is a collaborator with the District and works with parents to understand the education system, Dufford said.

PEN’s mission remains to promote family participation in public education, but the reality of how they do that today is far from those first parent programs.

“Our programs and services have changed as our first cohort of families has been aging. When we first started, all the families were entering kindergarten. Well, now those families are in high school. So we have added on not just programs for elementary [school] but helping parents find the right middle schools for their students. And then we just recently started helping them find the right high school for their students, and now we’re actually working to help them understand the college process.”

There are different programs geared towards families ranging in ages and at different stages of the education process. The group brings parents together in what aims to be a seamless learning experience for parents as well as children.

“We have access to a lot of parents, and that’s our strength — we can bring those parent groups together,” Dufford said.

Lots of those parents will no doubt come together at the Sunday event.

Tonight’s fundraiser with feature both a live and silent auction, delicious wines, beers and spirits tasting, international flavors provided by Amara, the Paella Project, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.

The festivities will be heightened with music by the John Muir High School Jazz Band.

To come to the event or to discover more about the Pasadena Education Network see


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