MSD Continues ESL Outreach

67
Teacher Lali Castellanos speaking with ESL parents employed at First State Manufacturing.
Teacher Lali Castellanos speaking with ESL parents employed at First State Manufacturing.

The Milford School District is continuing with its initiative to reach minority communities with the institution of a Parent Resource Center. Now beginning it’s second year, 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.

The Parent Resource Center has created an outreach program for parents at their place of employment during their lunch hour. In an attempt to help their employees that are Milford School District parents, First State Manufacturing has again opened their doors to school officials so that the school can speak directly to these parents about what is happening in their child’s school. 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.

“Sometimes coming into a school can be intimidating for a parent, this is taken away because we come together in their work environment,” commented Sylvia Henderson, Director of Student Support for the Milford School District. “The program also allows us to see how hard they work to make a living for their families.  It is important to build relationships with parents and provide resources in their native language.  Over the past year and a half, we have helped the parents with dress code decisions, bus transportation, registering their children for school and providing information on the placement of their children.”

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. Teacher Lali Castellanos has been meeting with parents in the community interpreting 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 parents can present huge challenges to the children and teachers.

“It can be very difficult for these students to receive support at home from parents that speak english as a second language,” commented Ms. Castellanos. “The program enhances the parents role and self-confidence when they interact with the schools. More than just helping them understand what their children are learning academically, we also talk to them about helping their families to live a healthy lifestyle and engaging in family activities; all things that we teach all of our kids at school.”

Parents involved in the Resource Center at First State Manufacturing believe that the program is a useful tool to understand what is going on in their child’s school. School officials will continue hosting the outreach program 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.

“The hope for the program is to expand to other businesses and build a bigger resource center,” commented Ms. Henderson. “We hope that we can educate as many families as we can and continue to build relationships with our all of our parents.”