A Sign of Appreciation: How Edgewater Elementary is Highlighting the Integral Work of Bilingual Facilitators
There’s a relatively new parking spot sign at Edgewater Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, and while it might not seem like a big deal, it’s quite the opposite. The designation honors the role of the school’s Bilingual Facilitator. Facilitator Karen McDonough, is an integral part of the educational community, as are the more than two dozen Bilingual Facilitators in the county’s school system.
Gaston Gamez, Manager of International Family Outreach Programs for the AACPS Office of School and Family Partnerships, recently snapped a photo of the sign, which reads “Reserved Parking: Bilingual Facilitator.” He posted it to his Twitter account. In doing so, he was celebrating a small victory of sorts.
“What a great feeling to be recognized as a key staff member in @AACountySchools,” he tweeted about the sign.
Gamez, whose role centers around supporting international families by connecting them to a variety of resources and activities, works closely with the county’s Bilingual Facilitators. He says these staff members offer invaluable language support.
“Each Bilingual Facilitator works diligently to support staff and international families with language needs,” he explains.
The facilitators speak a variety of languages. They work to assist both students and parents with everything from enrollment to graduation ceremonies, lunch forms to parent-teacher conferences, and beyond.
This year, Gamez says there are 26 Bilingual Facilitators servicing 130 schools and educational centers throughout the county.
“The team of Bilingual Facilitators are the best to work with,” says Gamez. “They put their heart and passion in all that they do.”
Help for Families
McDonough, now in her eighth year as a Bilingual Facilitator, says the most rewarding part of her role is the helping hand she’s able to offer to families.
“I make a difference in how well parents understand the school and thus can support their kids,” she says. She adds that she and her fellow BF’s, as they’re colloquially known, are also able to help students get access to other important things. Things like winter coats, wifi at their homes, Friday food bags, and after school programs.
“From my perspective, my role is to help immigrant families and any family who does not speak English access the school system so that they can better support their children’s education and academic success,” McDonough says.
And about that parking spot…what does it mean to McDonough, other than a shorter walk to the school doors at Edgewater Elementary?
“To me, it is a physical representation of being part of the school team and feeling valued,” she says.
–Laura Adams Boycourt
Do you have a success story to share with Laura? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org