Parent Student Connectors are credited for their role in helping EL students

Photo by Jenny Kirk Parent Student Connectors Fartun Ali, Tina Quinones, Hsa Mu and Jesus Reyes (not pictured), were recently recognized in the Tiger Spotlight at a Marshall School Board meeting. They are pictured with board chairman Jeff Chapman.

MARSHALL — Diversity — and what it means to reach out, identify needs and teach all students — was highlighted throughout the Marshall Public School Board meeting this past week.

In a presentation, English Learner (EL) staff shared that there are just shy of 400 students at MPS who are not yet proficient in communicating fluently or learning effectively in English. They often come from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds.

Along with EL staff, the district relies on Parent Connectors (PSCs) to help bridge the communication gap and meet the challenges that arise. According to MPS Superintendent Scott Monson, the PSCs do a lot of really important work for students, families and staff in the district.

“The ‘tasks’ that they do are valuable, however, what might be more important is that they provide a friendly face and someone to help when or if there’s a language barrier,” Monson said. “I’ve heard and seen firsthand how helpful this can be for students and families. As we continue to work to meet our family’s needs and to engage them in their children’s education, the PSCs do a variety of things to assist with this.”

Parent Student Connectors Tina Quinones, Jesus Reyes, Hsa Mu and Fartun Ali were recently recognized in the Tiger Spotlight for working with students and families in the community to support the district’s mission of educating, supporting and preparing all learners for success.

“The Parent Student Connectors play a significant role in building relationships and partnerships between the schools, families and community,” board chair Jeff Chapman said. “We know that the partnership between home and school has a great impact on how well students do in school.”

Chapman also shared what some staff members had to say.

“The PSCs are such valuable assets to have in our schools,” he said. “They are wonderful at helping to translate during assessment days and parent teacher conferences as well as helping us to get important messages to parents and to get important forms filled out and returned to the school.”

Some noted that the PSCs were also “amazing to work with” during summer school.

“They come every morning and make phone calls to families that have not shown up, go get students, and help translate what is going on with families,” Chapman said. “It is such an amazing support for us.”

PSCs were formerly called Minority Advocates. In the past few years, the number of PSCs has grown along with the rising EL population.

“We’ve expanded the number of full-time PSCs over the years as we’ve seen an increase in our minority student population,” Monson said. “It makes sense, since we want and need to do as much as we can to best meet the needs of our minority students and families.”

Currently, there are MPS students who identify as Hispanic, Karen, African, Hmong, Latino, Asian and Somali as well as others whose backgrounds include: Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Egypt, Mynamar, Mexico, El Salvador, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

“The PSCs work to accommodate the schedule of our families and have shown their willingness to do whatever it takes to help out,” Monson said. “They are very valuable members of our staff.”

The Parent Student Connectors and other staff will join EL students and their families for Family Engagement Night on Monday, Oct. 22, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Marshall Middle School. The event, held in the cafeteria and gymnasium, will include a “Spin-tactular Basketball Show” presented by Champions Forever, a family group of champion basketball handlers who were finalists on America’s Got Talent in 2013.