Santos Hernandez wanted to give his first-grade son, Yaindent, the chance to play on a soccer team. But he wasn’t sure where to sign him up, or if there was a program available through school.
“My boy (had) been dreaming about soccer,” said Hernandez, who has limited English-language skills. “I’ve been trying to sign him up.”
At the district’s Spanish-speaking Parent Information Night, Hernandez sat down with Susan Faulk, high school English Language teacher, and helped him register Yaindent for soccer through Wyoming Parks and Recreation. Faulk explained details of the program and told Hernandez where to send payment.
“It helped me a lot,” Hernandez said.
The district has hosted two information sessions, led by Virginia Tummelson, community liaison for Hispanic families, and is planning five more next school year for Spanish-speaking parents.
Thirty-seven parents attended the first session and about a dozen attended the second. The program is funded by the district.
Parents laughed, smiled and nodded as Tummelson covered a range of topics in Spanish. During sessions, they’ve covered everything from M-STEP testing to immunization requirements, parent-teacher conferences and setting up Powerschool accounts to check their children’s grades, attendance and homework. Program leaders also inform them of extra-curricular and athletic opportunities.
“We really want to build a community. That’s our ultimate goal,” said Faulk.
In the district, 506 students are non-native English speakers, and 402 are Spanish-speaking. Oftentimes, their parents are unaware of many things required and available at school. Getting them informed and involved gives them a voice, Faulk said.
“Sometimes teachers assume parents don’t care, but it’s really that they don’t know. By trying to get them information earlier, they might be more involved,” she said.
Empowering & Uniting Parents
Tummelson said she takes many calls from parents every day who have questions. Many don’t know where to start in helping their child in school, and that leaves them feeling powerless. Coming together to seek information helps.
“I want them to get used to being united,” Tummelson said. “They have power if they are united, and they need to be heard.”
The high school’s National Honor Society students provide daycare during the events.
Parent Oldin Gonzales said he attended the session because he wants to know what’s happening in the district where he has three children, ages 12, 10 and 8.
“Some things we don’t know. and having information is very important for us,” he said. “It opens our minds.”
The district has also offered the Parent Education Program to help non-native English speaking parents learn English for the past few years.