In alignment with the Great Expectations Initiative and to build connections with families, Orono Community Education staff participated in a University of Minnesota Extension training program called Education: Our Best Legacy. This program was chosen because it was originally developed for and by Spanish-speaking families. For the first class a parent, Orono graduate and ELL teacher co-facilitated a 7-week class in Spanish for Spanish-speaking families. Fourteen families attended – most from Orono but some from surrounding districts – along with their children, who were engaged in fun enrichment activities while their parents were in class. The goal was to build relationships and help families connect with each other and the education system while they learned ways to support their children and express their thoughts and ideas.
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Offering the class in their native language allowed parents to fully participate and have deeper discussion about the topics. Having a parent as one of the facilitators built trust and made participants feel comfortable and connected. The parents were eager to learn more about the local education system so they can fully support their children’s success in learning.
From the comments and discussion during the class, a document was created called “Messages to My Child’s School” from Latino parents. This document is being used to help school staff increase their understanding of Latino families. Over the course of the seven weeks, Orono school administrators, counselors, office staff and teachers were invited to talk with parents and participate in a graduation ceremony at the end of class.
Many wonderful connections were forged from the Legacy class and based on parent feedback, such as adding iPads with Google Translate at all Orono schools’ guidance and health offices. School staff and parents are making a real effort to bridge the communication challenges and work together for the success of kids. Another “Our Best Legacy” training is planned for the 2019-20 school year. Contact Donna Ostvig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-449-8338 x 6202 for more information.