b'Parents Go Achieve Executive Direc-tor Eileen Collins Neri (R) presents a grant to ELL Back to School teacher Katie Simpson and Dr. Ramn Robles-Fernndez, Supervisor of World Languages and ESL K-12 for the Parent-School ESL Connection.New language program teaches more than just EnglishBY MALIA RULON HERMANF oraparentintheSouthOrange- garten through 12thgrade, representing 80 families.We know that many factors prevent parents from Maplewood School District who wasMost of these families speak Spanish, Portuguese orengaging in our schoolswork, culture, and language born in the U.S. and grew up speak- Haitian-Creole.access, among others, he says. We wanted to find a ing English, the thought of attend- By law, the district is required to provide commu- way to make access easier and felt that teaching ba-ing a parent-teacher conference maynications to these families in their native language,sic skills in English and providing information about not even elicit a second thought. ThebutSimpsonsays,sheandDr.RamnRobles- how to manage school and support students could be same may go for attending a district- Fernndez, who is the districts Supervisor of Worldthe initial step toward participation.wide event regarding the college admissions processLanguages and ESL K-12, wanted to do more. Thankstoa$2,874grantfromtheAchieve or a Parent-Teacher Association meeting. We wanted to provide a resource for learningFoundation of South Orange & Maplewood, Simp-But for parents who dont speak English, eventsEnglish for the parents of ELLs in our district, and,son and Robles-Fernndez have been able to start likethesearenoteasy,saysKatieSimpson,whoat the same time, we wanted to teach parents how toa remarkable new program: the Parent-School ESL teaches English at Columbia High School to stu- navigate our school district, Simpson explains.Connection. Its free and open to any parent in the dents for whom English is not a first language, alsoRobles-Fernndez said the idea started as a con- district who wants to learn English while also learn-known as English Language Learners (ELL). versation with Simpson about how best to involveing more about their childs school district.There are about 110 such students, from kinder- the districts ELL parents.Some parents might be coming from cultures 34/ matters magazine / school 2021'