One way that schools have been reaching out to students who are English Language Learners is to have bilingual facilitators work with students and families.
Without bilingual facilitator Jaclyn Muñoz , Norma Rivera would not have known she had the power to care for her special needs son. Today she is participating in his education and learning a lot about herself and her son’s needs.
“Sentía que aqui en escuela aprendí mucho,” Rivera said.
At Tyler Heights Elementary School, Muñoz’s job is to be the bilingual facilitator, translating, organizing, scheduling, registering, and listening to students and parents. She also talks to dozens of parents.
The Hispanic population of Annapolis is increasing, and Tyler Heights Elementary and Annapolis High School are the only county schools that have full time bilingual facilitators. The rest of the facilitators are 14 full time employees who speak Spanish and two part timers who speak Korean and Vietnamese, and they split their time across up to 23 schools. They may work with up to 375 families, bridging cultural and linguistic gaps.
Some bilingual facilitators find that bridging the cultural gaps are just as important as the linguistic ones. In some countries, parents are not encouraged to ask questions as it is considered disrespectful; in the USA, the tendency is to expect parents to ask questions and be involved.