Teachers reach out to East Side resources

CLUES President Ruby Azurdia-Lee talks with ACC staff. (submitted photo)

Marissa Gustafson
Center for School Change

Field trips for students are common, but an East Side elementary finds great value in a field trip for its faculty.  For the sixth year, East Side charter public school Academia Cesar Chavez has taken their staff into the community on a bus tour. 

ACC is a K-6 school that has 376 students who are 90% Latino and are primarily from the East Side.  Ninety-nine percent qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch, compared to the St. Paul district which is 73% Free/Reduced Lunch.

"We want to expose (the staff) to the community so they can understand where their students come from," explained ACC Founder and Executive Director Ramona de Rosales.

Principal Hernan Moncada added, "If the staff is going to work with the community, they have to know the community."

Dr. Joyce Epstein, a national family engagement authority from Johns Hopkins University, has found that one of the best predictors of family involvement is not the family's income or race, but what the school does to involve them.  A culturally competent, informed staff is better able to make connections with families.

Every year, ACC leadership invites veteran community activist Gilbert de la O to narrate as they drive around the neighborhoods where ACC families live.  They visited key organizations, such as CLUES, the Mexican Consulate, the Eastside Family Center at John A. Johnson elementary, Neighborhood House, and El Burrito Mercado.

Staff reactions were very positive.  Teachers became more familiar with the community they serve.

Marisa Gustafson is Assistant Director at Center for School Change.  She can be reached at marisa@centerforschoolchange.org.

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