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Community liaisons create a bridge between schools and families

Community liaisons create a bridge between schools and familiesImagine that someone gives you a 500-piece puzzle, but no picture of what it’s supposed to be.

This is how Community Liaison Lucia Wirths of Independence Elementary explains her role. With 407 families at her school, Wirths says the first part of her job is to understand the needs of the families.

“We have families whose needs might change drastically, such as food or housing assistance due to a job loss in the family,” Wirths said. “How can a student study and focus when some of their basic needs aren’t being met?”

Community Liaisons create a bridge between school and home by providing resources or connecting families to outside organizations. They establish relationships with businesses, individuals and religious organizations to provide resources and services like snack programs, hygiene bags and more. They also connect with parents whose first language is not English, ensuring that those parents can feel involved with the school and be part of their students’ education. Some families may not be aware that they can have a voice in their child’s education or how to advocate for their child, so Liaisons provide workshops and coaching to families.

“When one grows, we all grow,” Wirths said. “When we help our parents understand how sleep impacts their kids, how to create good study habits and how to learn while playing together, our kids benefit. When we have parents and families involved in the process of education, kids succeed.”

Many Liaisons were drawn to the role because of their background or personal experiences. Abir Abbar, who works as a Community Liaison at Village East Elementary, grew up in a family learning to care for others. 

“My parents’ lesson is that we all have a role to play in others' lives to give,” Abbar said.” Through traveling and changing homes with my husband and children, we apply the same principle. As a result of my background, I always love human relationships.”

While Abbar acknowledges she has had some families and donors make assumptions about her based on her appearance or name, Abbar said breaking down stereotypes is important work. 

“This isn’t always easy work,” Abbar said. “Some days are more difficult and complex than others. But to be honest, I’m a very lucky person. I have the best support system from my family, school and the district as well. That gives me the tools, energy and encourages me to do it. As liaisons, we chose this job because we care.”

 

Posted 9/30/21.