Virtual meetings have provided new opportunities for supporting newcomer families.
Although the pandemic has not been an easy road to navigate, the International Welcome Center, working in tandem with ESOL/Title III, has found new ways to use virtual tools to support newcomer students and families.
Newcomer students (and their families) are welcomed into the district with a virtual English language proficiency screening using the WIDA Remote Screener. Although an adjustment from in-person screening, the IWC staff has found the remote screener to be a very useful tool and quite accurate in determining if a student is eligible for ESOL services. In addition, it is a low stress (but high tech!) way for students and parents to connect with a friendly CCSD face and ask any questions or express any concerns they have in a more personal way. Establishing a positive relationship with the student and family from the start is the first step towards a successful school experience.
Our Language Facilitator teams have also been able to connect with parents in virtual meetings and conduct simultaneous interpretation through unique tools in Zoom. Jose Gúzman, IWC Language Facilitator, worked closely with Emily Lawry, Social Emotional Support Specialist, to provide interpretation in Spanish for a parent engagement session. Parents were able to follow along in real-time, allowing for native English speakers and Spanish-speaking families to participate together in the workshop on Social Emotional Learning.
In addition, Parent Resource Specialists (PRS) have been working with schools to provide virtual support to parents on a variety of topics in both Spanish and Portuguese. These sessions have proven to be an effective tool. Families are able to engage with the school while still meeting the demands of work and home life. The ability to use technology to meet the parents where they are – perhaps even at work on a lunch break – has been one positive outcome to come from the pandemic.
Program Manager, International Welcome Center