School Board Welcomes Tillamook Latino Families with Open Arms
Written by Hollie Conger
April’s Juntos Cohort graduation incited much growth in Tillamook County’s Latino community. Not only did the graduation introduce new families to the program, but it also started an important conversation around school board participation.
During a presentation by Dave Hollandsworth, Tillamook School Board Chair Member, parents were given the opportunity to hear more about the role of school board members as well as how the board operates as a whole. Parents had the chance to ask Dave questions and were excited to learn about the opportunity to attend the May school board meeting.
Oregon Coast Coordinator, Maydra Valencia, shares her experience as a leader in this moving journey.
On May 4th, I received a call from the school district in regards to the anticipated number of Latino parents attending the coming school board meeting on the 9th. Since the school board meeting was scheduled to occur at the same time as the GED class, I arranged for our 19 students to participate in the board meeting. To accommodate the large crowd, the superintendent ordered brand new head sets so I could translate during the meeting.
On Monday the 9th, the district had all the head sets ready to go and I was welcomed with open arms. I can’t tell you the feeling of appreciation I had for it all. But just like with any other event, I began to wonder and worry if the Juntos and GED parents would attend.
At about 5:25pm, they began to arrive. We explained how to use head sets and at 5:30pm they started piling in! Teachers, principals and school board members looked in amazement at what was happening.
As the meeting began, I translated, and let me tell you, it was difficult. But the experience was such a privilege. The energy in the room that night was inexplicable. Eric Dunker, the Coastal RA, arrived from Corvallis and his eyes were also in amazement as he watched what was happening in our community school board meeting.
The board members gave their reports, and they expressed their gratitude for all those who attended, especially the Latino parents! Maribel, a Juntos parent volunteer and GED student, raised her hand to have the chance to share her appreciation. She thanked the board for making them feel important, for providing the headsets and giving them this opportunity to feel like they were appreciated. She finished by thanking them for also being a great partner and supporter to the Juntos program.
I cannot tell you how much that night will forever stay in my heart. I worked for two years with OSU Open Campus and that night was proof of how hard we have worked and will continue to work for our Latino population to have equal opportunities in the education system and our community!
I want to thank all of those who made this night possible, and I am honored to continue our partnership on this amazing journey!