- Richmond Public Schools
National Parent Engagement Month: Boushall Middle School
It's parent-teacher conference night at Boushall Middle School and the building is abuzz with parents, students, teachers and translators. While the presence of translators is not the norm at every school, this is par for the course at Boushall, which boasts an English Language Learners (ELL) population of nearly 40%. Translators are present at every single community and family event to make sure that the parents of ELL students receive information in a way that is relevant and useful to them.
“Parents are our most important partners and we welcome them with open arms to come in and understand what we do every day to meet the academic needs of their students,” said Boushall Middle School Principal Latonya Waller. “To do this, we need to make sure that we are providing them with the tools that they need to be successful.”
Boushall’s staff utilizes numerous methods to engage the families of ELL students. In addition to translators at school events, teachers access the Language Line, a translation service that can be used for everyday communication such as a phone call home or homework help. Every flier that goes home is available in both English and Spanish. And this year, Boushall has also added additional bilingual staff to their roster, including a secretary, social worker and counselor, thanks to funds provided by the RPS School Board.
Aside from providing support and resources for parents, faculty and staff at Boushall also work diligently to ensure that all families feel welcome and embraced by the school community. They recently hosted the Festival of Nations, a culminating event for Hispanic Heritage Month, where they not only invited the entire community to attend the festivities, but they sent buses to pick-up students and parents who may not have had transportation to the school otherwise.
Transportation can be a barrier to parent engagement, but just as they are working to eliminate language barriers, Principal Waller and her staff are also finding ways to alleviate transportation issues. By sending buses to pick-up families or hosting events in the community, such as Principal Meet and Greets and workshops at the district’s Welcome Center, they are showing families that they will go the extra mile to meet parents where they are and to set each family up for success.
“It’s important that every family knows that they have a place and a home at Boushall Middle School,” said Andria Impson, 8th Grade ESOL teacher and Department Chair. “Events like Festival of Nations show we are committed to celebrating the diversity of all our students and families.”