Local News

July 27, 2013

‘Life is hard, education makes it easier’

Parents push children to a better life

The memory of exhaustion under 100-plus degree weather, while working in a tomato field in Florida, is never far from Rolando Ortiz’s mind, he says, especially when he looks at his children.

The immigrant from Guatemala said he never wants to see his four children — Eric, 12, Gary, 7, Angie, 6, and Yojan, 1 — work as hard as he had to when he first came to this country several years ago.

“I don’t have an education,” he said, speaking through Dalton Public Schools interpreter Vicky Cervantes. “With an education, you get a better job. Life is hard. Education makes it easier.”

That’s why Ortiz and his wife Blanca have participated with their children in the Big Red Reads program since 2010. The family came to Blue Ridge Elementary School Wednesday morning, continuing their tradition.

Program volunteers travel to different locations in the city each Wednesday during the summer and offer free book rentals to students to stave off summer learning loss.

For Gary, a Brookwood Elementary School fourth-grader, being able to read over the summer offers a chance to “imagine.”

“It makes me, like, see it,” he said with a smile after picking a book from a bin. “It’s like I’m in the real story.”

For Eric, a seventh-grader at Dalton Middle School, reading is more academic.

“I want to go to college,” he said. “Reading will help me do that.”

Rolando Ortiz said he’ll make sure all of his kids get a college education.

“We push our kids,” he said. “They have to make it. Education is very important. Reading is very important. It’s not about money, but, of course, with education you get paid better. Money isn’t everything, but life requires it.”

“It’s great to see them come out and get excited,” Blue Ridge reading recovery teacher Kerry Adams, who volunteers with the program, said of the kids. “They can come to the book tub to select a book in their age level. It’s all been organized so well by Alice Ensley.”

One way Ensley, the program’s coordinator, organizes the event is by keeping track of who picks up and returns books. Going through the lists is when she said she noticed the Ortiz family.

“We keep a record each week,” she said. “I noticed they came every week. I’ve been impressed by their commitment. They’re probably the only ones who have done that.”

The need to create a program for families like the Ortiz family became evident after a survey in 2009, Ensley said.

“We sent the survey to parents, asked them how many books they had in their homes,” she said. “The response was eye opening. A lot of them didn’t have very many books or access to books.”

While developing the program, Ensley heard a story about a man in Columbia who took books into hard to access neighborhoods by donkey.

“I thought if he could do that, we can do something,” she said.

Something that makes city schools unique, Rolando Ortiz said, and a reason he hopes to stay in Whitfield County for the foreseeable future.

“A lot of families have to move to find jobs, but this is where we’ve raised our family and where our kids call home. It’s our community,” he said. “We have a life and jobs here.”

“I look for them now,” Ensley said. “I check my cards to see if they came. They’ve come so many times. They definitely have a commitment to read and learn.”


Text Only
Local News
  • runner thompson.jpg Taking the race back

    Dean Thompson didn’t go 100 yards in his 26.2 miles through the streets of Boston without seeing people on the side of the road cheering for him.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bobby Lee Dixon mg.jpg Officials: Man jailed for driving toward officer

    A Chatsworth man who officials said accelerated a vehicle toward a law enforcement officer who was approaching on foot remains in the Murray County jail without bond.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Standoff 1 mlh.jpg Charges undetermined following standoff (Updated 5:45 p.m.)

    Police have yet to decide whether to press criminal charges against a man they say was armed and intoxicated while barricading himself in his office at a carpet mill in downtown Dalton Tuesday evening.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Man charged for using fraudulent Social Security card

    A man is being held in the Whitfield County Jail on multiple charges for using a fraudulent Social Security card with someone else’s Social Security number to land a job at a rug manufacturer in Dalton and for providing false information to receive workers’ compensation benefits, according to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation’s Enforcement Division.

    April 23, 2014

  • Standoff 1 mlh.jpg Police: Four-hour standoff ends with peaceful surrender

    A man who was armed with at least one firearm and believed to be under the influence of alcohol surrendered to police Tuesday night after barricading himself for four hours inside a carpet mill in downtown Dalton, officials said.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Murray deputy bit by drug dog while taking selfie

    A Murray County Sheriff’s Office deputy is recovering after one of the department’s drug dogs bit him in the face on Monday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Local wrestler ‘made everybody smile’

    Rash Renegade got his wrestling nickname after a motorcycle wreck several years ago left him with a bad case of road burn.

    April 23, 2014

  • Pinwheels in murray '14 1 mlh.jpg Awareness can prevent child abuse

    Three hundred forty-six pinwheels dotted the Murray County Courthouse lawn on Tuesday, representing 346 reported cases of child abuse in the county last year.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Murray library, regional system still far apart

    Murray County officials say they will announce soon if they will follow through with their plan to take the Chatsworth-Murray Library out of the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fire believed to have started outside home

    Investigators are still working to learn what sparked a fire that nearly destroyed a house at 602 Top St. in Dalton on Monday.

    April 22, 2014