Expect more community outreach this fall at Atwater’s schools.
The Atwater Elementary School District will have eight community outreach coordinators in place when school resumes this fall as a program that has been in use at a few schools is extended to all campuses. Trustees approved the job description at their June 10 meeting.
Lynn Lysko, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, said each school will have a half-time community outreach specialist but that the position can be upgraded to full time if the Site Council concurs and allocates the extra money for it.
Some schools have had one person, often the office manager, Lysko said, who did some of the outreach tasks but not a dedicated employee to do all the necessary work.
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The focus of outreach is parent involvement, which takes many forms.
The community outreach specialist will be available to translate school materials into other languages and answer questions from those who don’t speak English. The specialist can help families of migrant and homeless children find services.
Lysko said the objective is to have students ready to learn every day; if they are stressed out over other concerns in their lives, they won’t pay attention to what’s going on at school.
Sometimes students don’t realize there’s help for them, Lysko said. That assistance could could in the form of a coat to fight off the winter chill or a new pair of shoes, thanks to intervention by the outreach coordinator, she said.
“We are trying to make folks feel as welcome in school as possible,” Lysko said. “We want to take care of them socially, emotionally and academically.”
Christy Lobao, principal at Mitchell Elementary School, praised the new community outreach positions.
“It’s a wonderful outreach with parents, especially those who don’t understand the school system well,” Lobao said. “The person can coordinate parents becoming more involved in school. It’s a very good thing for us.”
Mary Avila just retired as principal at Aileen Colburn School. She said the community outreach coordinator is a key position and a helpful support for other staff members.
A principal in Atwater for 18 years, Avila said the outreach coordinators will be able to provide information about services parents can use and the necessary telephone numbers. The coordinator also can check on attendance problems and get more parents to turn out for school functions.
Avila was also principal at Bellevue School for 10 years and established an outreach position there.
Lobao, who finished her first year as Mitchell principal, said the school had a part-time outreach coordinator at first, but specialized funding has provided money for a full-time position.
“They can do home visits,” Lobao said. “One of the amazing things is they find families who need assistance.”