BCS Advantage Magazine Summer 2016 - Page 26

Bridging Boundaries - Speaking with One Voice By Stacia Harris, Assistant Director of Communications From a small, non-descript office at Clyde A. Erwin High School, Norma Duran-Brown is building bridges between the school staff and the Hispanic communities they serve. Her efforts are translating into better understandings, relationships, and outcomes with the Latino population, which is transforming into a school culture that is better embracing its rich diversity. Norma Duran-Brown sits with one of her Juntos students, Wendy Brown’s career path onto the Erwin Montufar, as she writes about what career she wants to pursue. staff has taken her far from her homeland in Argentina, but her “The first step is getting to know each background has uniquely prepared her other and communicating intentionally to succeed where others may have and deeply.” struggled to relate. “There are multi layers of challenges,” she says. “Language is a main one, and I think the school system is making a tremendous effort through language services to overcome this barrier not only for Spanish speaking parents, but for all parents.” Brown accepted the new job of Family Outreach Specialist in February. Her many responsibilities include identifying student problems, the cause of the difficulties, and then devising a workable solution. Students may be having attendance troubles, transportation issues, or struggling to understand and adapt to a new culture. 24 will quickly tell you she is not an interpreter, although she will assume this role as needed. “That’s what is different and unique. Everyone has role. My role is between all of them...social worker, counselor, teacher, student and family.” Brown goes on to say, “There is already an understanding of the system and culture. The fact is I’m here, and I can interact with all of them. I assist them in gaining a new depth in knowing each other.” Brown’s office is at Erwin High, but she serves as a liaison for all schools in the Erwin District. Although the position is new, Erwin’s staff is It’s all about student success. Brown says already taking notice. Counselor Nicole Killeen everybody wants the best for the students. says she is filling a recognized need. The challenges they face are unique but “open communication is key. It’s about being all on “Throughout the Erwin District schools, we have the same page, supporting each other’s efforts- students from many different countries. School- that’s the key to that success, and the first step including graduation requirements, discipline, is getting to know each other and communicating buses, etc.- can be quite different around the intentionally and deeply.” world. Norma is able to help students and families navigate their new school system.” She says the main goal of this position is to promote better understanding between Latino Social Worker Shelly Roeder says Brown “works students, their families, and the school. Brown tirelessly to help students and families. What we