Hispanic outreach part of schools’ ‘high expectations’ | VailDaily.com

Hispanic outreach part of schools’ ‘high expectations’

Cindy Ramunno

EAGLE COUNTY ” The Eagle County School District hosts a number of programs to help Spanish-speaking parents connect with their children’s schools.

Edwards Elementary leads the pack, with a Spanish-English “intercambio” class for parents; a bilingual PTA with Spanish and English speaking officers; literacy classes; parent workshops; and meetings tailored to different grade levels.

“One thing that we have that is invaluable is a Spanish-speaking parent liaison who works directly with our Hispanic parents,” teacher Bev Rasmussen says.

Edwards Elementary holds outreach meetings on the first Monday of each month, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the school. The next meeting is Dec. 5.

Upcoming PTA events include a posada on Dec. 19 and “Union of Cultures” in May. For more information on events and programs at Edwards Elementary, call 328-2970.

At Berry Creek Middle School, outreach meetings are held the last Monday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the school. For more information on that program, please call 328-2960.

Battle Mountain High School has a large bilingual PTA, which focuses on various initiatives throughout the year. Outreach meetings are held at the high school on the third Monday of every month, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the school. For more information, call 328-2930.

“One of Eagle County schools’ top goals for this year and beyond is to close the achievement gap between Hispanic and Caucasian students and one of the key elements of that effort is to engage the local Latino population,” says district Superintendent John Brendza.

“We want all kids to graduate from our schools prepared for higher education or for the workplace,” Brendza says. “If all students are to achieve that goal, we must focus on language-acquisition skills and other special needs. And, most importantly our schools and our community must have high expectations for all students.”

As part of this focus, Eagle County schools translates into Spanish letters to parents and its other publications. Earlier this fall, Brendza had a Spanish translator for a Meet the Superintendent session.

In the months ahead, a large-scale outreach effort is planned to bring in parents, former students and Hispanic community leaders to begin a dialogue about bridging the achievement gap.

“Our schools’ mission is to ‘Educate Every Student for Success,'” said Brendza. “If we are going to achieve that mission, we must find more effective ways to reach our Hispanic students.”

Vail, Colorado

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