The Parent Outreach Program offers support services for students and parents. Parents may contact the ESOL Parent Outreach Facilitator for assistance:
941-927-9000 ext. 34352
We serve ESOL students and their families by facilitating:
- Communication between home, school, and the ESOL department,
- Active and ongoing parent involvement in their children's education, and
- Access to community services and resources.
Our Parent Outreach Facilitator can connect families with community resources, attend school meetings with ESOL parents, provide certain interpretation services for parents, advocate for ESOL parents, explain state testing and state standards to parents of ESOL students, and explain the parent's rights and responsibilities in the United States' educational system.
In addition, when available, the program provides academic resources for the home to improve English proficiency. Finally, the Parent Outreach Program strives to promote cross-cultural awareness between parents and school staff.
Utilizing bilingual staff members as interpreters
Translation and interpretation are specialized career fields which often require a professional to invest upwards of ten years of study in the second language. The demands of the job require highly specialized and sophisticated language skills in two languages, as well as mental dexterity, bicultural competence, linguistic ethics, and a high degree of decorum and professionalism. Bilingualism is only one qualification. Because of the professional demands and high stakes, bilingual staff members who wish to act as interpreters should be professionally trained. Again, children or students of any age should never be used as interpreters for educational meetings, even if the parents are comfortable using their children as interpreters in other settings. Call for an adult instead, or reschedule the meeting if nobody is available immediately. If the teacher or parents feel the matter is urgent and cannot be rescheduled, contact the district Parent Outreach Facilitator.
Please do not use a bilingual staff member who has no training in professional interpretation. There are numerous pitfalls to using untrained staff for this important service. First, out of politeness, untrained and inexperienced interpreters are less likely to interrupt a speaker as their memory is reaching its limit; these interpreters often cannot get an entire message across accurately. Second, sometimes these staff members respond to or engage the parent in sidebar conversations, offering the parent educational advice that you have not advocated. At times, the parent uses the bilingual staff member as their advocate, rather than as an interpreter, and seeks cultural, systemic, and even educational advice. An untrained interpreter (who as an educator is naturally helpful to parents) can easily fall into discussions like this, forgetting their role as interpreter. Third, a staff member who is not in the habit of translating their conversations with parents for the benefit of others does not always share these conversations with others in the room, so monolingual meeting attendees will be unaware of information that is helping the parent make educational decisions.