Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
November 15, 2017

New Roles in Education: Family School Collaboration Specialist

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Ana Martinez, our Family School Collaboration Specialist, is a driving force in our community here in Salt Lake City, Utah. She works to bridge the school-home connection, inviting families in and advocating for and with them so that they can navigate the system of education and help their children achieve. Martinez’s engagement and empowerment activities are not only effective, they are easily replicable for any school aiming to increase family engagement.

    Martinez didn’t start out to be an educator. She studied Latin American studies and justice studies, thinking she would eventually become a probation officer. She later worked for a nonprofit family support center running court-ordered parenting classes and as a part-time school secretary. In the nearly two years since the principal fought to establish a specialist position at the school, Martinez has become a go-to for both parents and teachers looking to communicate and work together.

    “I don’t want these kids to lose their culture,” Martinez says. With over 26 languages and a high refugee population in the school, there is a real need to understand and celebrate heritage.

    In the summer, you can spot Martinez riding her bike through the neighborhood.

    “Schools aren’t consistent and we have to show consistency," she says. "Parents need to know you care, you are there for a reason, and you are not going to give up.” So instead of the entire school staff disappearing for a few months each summer, Martinez maintains a presence in the streets and the school.

    One big difference between the Family School Collaboration Specialist role and a typical Family Involvement Specialist, Martinez says, is she is much more than just a translator or a person pulling families in. She works to engage with the community and actually help them in all aspects of their lives. The knowledge and support she is offering to the community at large only serves to strengthen families and ultimately help students.

     

    Second Cup of Coffee
    Families are invited in the morning for a "Second Cup of Coffee" to discuss concerns and ideas without any administration or teachers present. This time allows a building of rapport with families and, Martinez hopes, gives them a sense of safe space to feel as though she is a willing advocate for the community. Second Cup of Coffee is just one idea in the Salt Lake City School District Family and School Collaboration Communication Idea Book.

    Wasatch Community Garden
    Martinez partnered with the local community garden space to help families grow fresh foods. As the new school site is built, space will be created for a community garden right on the school grounds. Beyond gardening and fellowship, the families worked with Martinez to create a cookbook highlighting fresh, healthy recipes that also share a bit of their culture and home. Some of these recipes will be used when the community comes together for a Meadowlark Thanksgiving potluck with families and teachers.

    Padres Comprometidos
    Part of the National Council of La Raza curriculum, Padres Comprometidos, is an eight-session program designed to help parents understand how the school system works. From understanding school roles and healthy home habits for school success, to the purpose of a report card, the curriculum is designed to give parents a guide for interacting in the U.S. public school system.

    Parent-Friendly Schools
    Martinez not only works to help parents engage effectively, but also to help teachers in being responsive to what the community needs. Using the Parent Friendly Schools — Starting the Conversation documents from the Iowa Parent Information Resource Center, which our district uses, Martinez is able to help teachers focus on core values around parent involvement and self-identify how family-friendly our school is. Much of the work comes from Scholastic author Dr. Karen Mapp, who works closely with the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) arm of Scholastic.

    Programs
    Seemingly tireless, it would be impossible to list all the ways Martinez affects the school community. She runs English language learning for parents, facilitates a girls group for better social interactions and self-confidence, works with the PTA, runs Zumba for parents, and is a basketball coach. Martinez promotes and works with teachers to understand Ready Rosie, a program designed to deepen parent involvement.

    APTT in the picture frame refers to the Academic Parent-Teacher Teams program.

    Martinez is one of five Family School Collaboration Specialists working in the Salt Lake City School District, but there is room and need at every school. While each specialist works on different focus areas, such as attendance, partnerships with local universities, or conducting classes in the Community Learning Center, each is helping to bridge the connection between home and school. Martinez says the most important part of her job is that, “families know someone is speaking on their behalf and bringing in community activities to make the whole community better.”

    Ana Martinez, our Family School Collaboration Specialist, is a driving force in our community here in Salt Lake City, Utah. She works to bridge the school-home connection, inviting families in and advocating for and with them so that they can navigate the system of education and help their children achieve. Martinez’s engagement and empowerment activities are not only effective, they are easily replicable for any school aiming to increase family engagement.

    Martinez didn’t start out to be an educator. She studied Latin American studies and justice studies, thinking she would eventually become a probation officer. She later worked for a nonprofit family support center running court-ordered parenting classes and as a part-time school secretary. In the nearly two years since the principal fought to establish a specialist position at the school, Martinez has become a go-to for both parents and teachers looking to communicate and work together.

    “I don’t want these kids to lose their culture,” Martinez says. With over 26 languages and a high refugee population in the school, there is a real need to understand and celebrate heritage.

    In the summer, you can spot Martinez riding her bike through the neighborhood.

    “Schools aren’t consistent and we have to show consistency," she says. "Parents need to know you care, you are there for a reason, and you are not going to give up.” So instead of the entire school staff disappearing for a few months each summer, Martinez maintains a presence in the streets and the school.

    One big difference between the Family School Collaboration Specialist role and a typical Family Involvement Specialist, Martinez says, is she is much more than just a translator or a person pulling families in. She works to engage with the community and actually help them in all aspects of their lives. The knowledge and support she is offering to the community at large only serves to strengthen families and ultimately help students.

     

    Second Cup of Coffee
    Families are invited in the morning for a "Second Cup of Coffee" to discuss concerns and ideas without any administration or teachers present. This time allows a building of rapport with families and, Martinez hopes, gives them a sense of safe space to feel as though she is a willing advocate for the community. Second Cup of Coffee is just one idea in the Salt Lake City School District Family and School Collaboration Communication Idea Book.

    Wasatch Community Garden
    Martinez partnered with the local community garden space to help families grow fresh foods. As the new school site is built, space will be created for a community garden right on the school grounds. Beyond gardening and fellowship, the families worked with Martinez to create a cookbook highlighting fresh, healthy recipes that also share a bit of their culture and home. Some of these recipes will be used when the community comes together for a Meadowlark Thanksgiving potluck with families and teachers.

    Padres Comprometidos
    Part of the National Council of La Raza curriculum, Padres Comprometidos, is an eight-session program designed to help parents understand how the school system works. From understanding school roles and healthy home habits for school success, to the purpose of a report card, the curriculum is designed to give parents a guide for interacting in the U.S. public school system.

    Parent-Friendly Schools
    Martinez not only works to help parents engage effectively, but also to help teachers in being responsive to what the community needs. Using the Parent Friendly Schools — Starting the Conversation documents from the Iowa Parent Information Resource Center, which our district uses, Martinez is able to help teachers focus on core values around parent involvement and self-identify how family-friendly our school is. Much of the work comes from Scholastic author Dr. Karen Mapp, who works closely with the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) arm of Scholastic.

    Programs
    Seemingly tireless, it would be impossible to list all the ways Martinez affects the school community. She runs English language learning for parents, facilitates a girls group for better social interactions and self-confidence, works with the PTA, runs Zumba for parents, and is a basketball coach. Martinez promotes and works with teachers to understand Ready Rosie, a program designed to deepen parent involvement.

    APTT in the picture frame refers to the Academic Parent-Teacher Teams program.

    Martinez is one of five Family School Collaboration Specialists working in the Salt Lake City School District, but there is room and need at every school. While each specialist works on different focus areas, such as attendance, partnerships with local universities, or conducting classes in the Community Learning Center, each is helping to bridge the connection between home and school. Martinez says the most important part of her job is that, “families know someone is speaking on their behalf and bringing in community activities to make the whole community better.”

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Meghan's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
One-Stop January Shop: Every Resource You Need

Get great ideas, lessons, resources, interactives, and more for January. Celebrate the new year and Chinese New Year, and embrace the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with tips, books, and a host of other materials!

By Meghan Everette
January 2, 2017
Blog Post
13 Big Ideas for Big Nate and Other Graphic Novels

Read on for 13 ideas for teaching with Big Nate's box set and every graphic novel. Capitalize on student interest and hit reading skills hard with the visually-rich format.

By Meghan Everette
December 6, 2016
Blog Post
December Resources for Winter Holidays

Get links to winter projects and ideas for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. Find books, articles, blogs, crafts, and Printables for celebrating diversity and heritage all year long.

By Meghan Everette
November 21, 2016
Blog Post
November: Free Resources From the Election to Thanksgiving

Grab more than 100 November resources for Veterans Day, Aviation History Month, the 2016 Election, and Thanksgiving. Get links to interactives, lesson plans, articles, blog posts, and printable resources to plan easily with Scholastic all November long.

By Meghan Everette
October 24, 2016
Blog Post
Free Common Core Math Games for Every Math Monster

Print free, differentiated math games with a monster theme for math night or a monstrous math class. Get kindergarten through fifth grade Common Core aligned math activities.

By Meghan Everette
October 17, 2016

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us