MSD Creates Parent Outreach For ESL Parents

Teacher Lali Castellanos interprets for ESL parents and school officials.

Milford School District is moving forward with its initiative to reach minority communities with the institution of a Parent Resource Center. The program focuses on reaching out to parents that are historically not engaged with the public schools in the Milford area. With a growing ESL (English as a Second Language) population in the Milford School District it has become critical for school officials to use a proactive approach to incorporating these families into the district.

On Wednesday, February 29 Director of Student Support Sylvia Henderson visited First State Manufacturing with several principals and teachers from the Milford schools. The Parent Resource Center creates an outreach program for parents at their place of employment during their lunch hour. First State Manufacturing has opened its doors to school officials so that the school can speak to these parents directly. This is a unique opportunity for both the school and the parents to engage with each other about the specifics of their child’s education.

“We are trying to establish this relationship so these parents feel comfortable enough to come into the schools and speak with us directly,” commented Dr. Henderson. “This program acts as a resource center for the schools but also helps parents to understand what their children are doing while at school.”

The Parent Resource Center is part of a larger initiative from the federal Race To The Top Program to reach English as a Second Language communities. At Wednesday’s meeting Milford teacher Lali Castellanos interpreted in both spanish and english to help facilitate the conversation between school officials and parents. Ms. Castellanos has seen first hand,in her own classroom, that the language barrier among students can present huge challenges to the children and teachers.

“I have several ESL students in my classroom, about one-third of the class,” stated first grade teacher Ms. Castellanos. “When I speak in spanish those students immediately become more involved with their studies.”

Parents involved in the Resource Center at First State Manufacturing believe that the program is a very useful tool to understand what is going on in their child’s school. Maria Hernandez is very supportive of this new program and what it means for her second grade child.

“It’s a very good program,” commented Ms. Hernandez. “Besides the fact that it is very interesting, when we have a question we get a reaction right away.”

School officials will host the Parent Resource Center monthly at First State Manufacturing, continuing their engagement with the parents. Moving forward, District officials hope to extend the program to other local businesses in the Greater Milford Area and expand their outreach commitment to the ESL community.

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