Teaching assistant works with young victims of abuse

Children's Shelter classroom also refuge

SAN ANTONIO – For young victims of abuse and neglect, the classroom at the Children’s Shelter is a refuge.

Teaching assistant Nelda Alvarado has devoted almost 20 years of her life doing what many others would find too emotionally difficult.

“They come in scared, angry,” Alvarado said, and wondering when they’re going back home. She said she tells them, “Yes, your parents made a mistake, but it’s not your mistake.”

Alvarado said she tries to reassure them: “It’s not their fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just something that happened that’s going to get fixed.”

She and the teachers must make the most of every day since the children are there only an average of 45 days.

Alvarado said she’s encouraged any time she sees a traumatized child making progress with their schoolwork, only to see them eventually leave.

“I just hope and pray that whoever gets them continues their education,” she said.

Yet, because their immediate futures often are uncertain, Alvarado said their safety is always a concern.

“We teach them, if anything happens, don’t be afraid. Tell somebody,” Alvarado said.

The small school at the Children’s Shelter is a satellite campus of the San Antonio Independent School District.

Principal Michael Jordan said the goal is always “for our kids not to feel like victims of trauma, but feel like students.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.