Schools expand outreach to families who speak Spanish

District partners with consultant to offer training program over multiple sessions


The Douglas County School District has used some funding from its English Language Proficiency Act Excellence Award to provide training for Spanish-speaking families in the district.

The $130,000 award was presented to the district last year from the Colorado Department of Education, and the district has partnered with Patsy Roybal, a consultant who is an expert in parent involvement, primarily with Mexican/Latino families.

Roybal led a multi-part training program that offered classes, taught in Spanish, to help families understand what questions to ask of their child's school/teacher, how to stay informed, what roles they can play in their child's education, and the importance of partnering with their child's school and the district.

“Currently, approximately 15 people, or eight families, are participating in the workshops,” Becky Corr, the district's English language development team lead, said in a news release. “That attendance grows each week. The participants are so excited that they bring other families with them to the next class, and it grows via word of mouth.”

Before becoming an independent professional trainer, Roybal spent six years as the director of training and leadership development for the office of family and community engagement in Denver Public Schools, where she began her family engagement journey in the roles of parent liaison for bilingual middle schools, and family resource school coordinator at Cheltenham Elementary School. Roybal also served as deputy director for the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition and as the Colorado director for the Sacramento-based Parent Teacher Home Visits Project.

“At the first workshop, participants were asked about their hopes and dreams for their children,” Corr said in the release. “Everyone connected by celebrating the wonderful things happening in each family. By the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. These families simply have so much to offer to our community.”

Next, the class took a dive into data and learned how their child's school is performing, how English learners are performing, and looked closely at reporting tools such as School Performance Frameworks and what they mean.

Participants took a field trip Sept. 24 to the district's community launch of its new strategic plan. The group learned about the direction and priorities of the district, and reflected on the opportunities they have as bilingual families to contribute to the strategic plan.

“We are thrilled to be able to engage some of our Spanish-speaking families in this important conversation about DCSD's roadmap and priorities for the coming three to five years,” Thomas S. Tucker, Ph.D., superintendent of Douglas County School District, said in the release. “Their voice and partnership with our school district is incredibly important, and their engagement in their children's education is critical.”

Attendees took part in a graduation ceremony for the program on Oct. 1​. Although the families have completed this leadership program, they have chosen to continue meeting monthly to explore ways to share the information they learned with other families in their school communities.

In addition, graduates from this training program are partnering with district staff to plan and host an English language development celebration April 30 at the PACE Center in Parker. This will include a family session on post-secondary options, crafts, multilingual books, artistic presentations and performances, and cultural connections.


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