La Paz Chattanooga helped recruit and train over 75 bilingual volunteers to work with 14 Hamilton County public schools during the county-wide school registration day. Volunteers requested time off from their employers to help Chattanooga's Latino and Hispanic students enroll in school for the upcoming academic year.
According to the latest reporting, there were over 5,200 Hispanic and Latino students in Hamilton County public schools at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. The parents of many of these students do not speak sufficient English in order to properly complete the paperwork needed for school. La Paz volunteers assisted them by helping them prepare their documents and interpret for school officials.
"It's committed community partners like La Paz that go above and beyond to support our students and their families that will improve access and outcomes across Hamilton County," said Jared Bigham, executive director of Chattanooga 2.0.
Bilingual services are key in helping educators and students succeed, said officials. A recent survey conducted by La Paz found that educators and students in Hamilton County need greater access to culturally relevant services such as bilingual translation and interpretation services. Interpreters are needed at conferences, during school registration days and in general communications to families. These services allow parents to become active participants in their child’s education by helping them understand their child's academic needs. Additionally, with additional training and support, teachers would be able to provide information on student academic progress and performance.
"The local Latino community is constantly seeking opportunities to learn English, but for many local Latino residents, their English proficiency is not yet good enough for them to fill out the paperwork on their own," explains Patrick Miles, La Paz Chattanooga's director of Community Engagement. "The process of filling out the mountain of papers required at school registration can be challenging for a native English speaker. So, for our Spanish speaking families, this process can be daunting. Just a little bit of assistance from caring community members goes a long way to show our city's collective efforts to help students in our area develop."
Clifton Hills Elementary teacher, Jacob Vrieswyk, said, “The support that La Paz gives our school has been a lifeline for us at Clifton Hills Elementary. Without their partnership, we would not be able to adequately serve our community. From helping out with school registrations, interpreting during parent-teacher conferences, and collaborating with us as we seek new ways to serve our families, La Paz is always there for us.”
As the leading Hispanic/Latino organization in the area, La Paz aims to continue serving as a community liaison by helping families receive the support they need to thrive in Chattanooga. This includes helping parents learn the ins and outs of the school system so that their children have a greater propensity to succeed in the classroom, said officials. Since opening its doors in 2004, La Paz has served over 30,000 people in our region through direct services, in depth case-management, and education and outreach programming.
For more information regarding La Paz's community outreach efforts , please contact Patrick Miles, La Paz's director of Community Engagement and Administration, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the La Paz office at 624-8414.