The educational series for Spanish-speaking families will be held once a month in the evenings from Oct. 19 through April 19, alternating locations at Park Elementary School and Escalante Middle School. The first class will be held Oct. 19 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
The mission of the project is to promote the participation of parents through training and information sessions that allow them to answer questions and actively participate in their children's education, social-emotional, and academic well-being.
The project aligns with the district’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts, particularly around language justice – a practice to create shared power and dismantle systems of oppression that have traditionally disenfranchised non-English speakers. Escuela para Padres is a positive action step to allow all families to have their voices heard.
“I think it’s necessary to have a program like this,” said Gabriela Rico Alvarez, a Parent/Guardian Bilingual School Liaison for the district. “It teaches parents how our schools are different from their country, and not only the language – the whole system and culture is different.”
Escuela para Padres will include free interpretation, childcare, and dinner for families. The six classes in the series will include a variety of topics, including: the process of English Language Learners (ELL); using the Parent Portal, signing up for the Free and Reduced Lunch program; school safety; and support around mental health, bullying, sexual harrassment, and substance use.
Community partners are providing support for Escuela para Padres, including: Fort Lewis College, La Plata Family Center, Durango Adult Education Center, LPYS, and La Plata County Collaborative Management Program.
Rico-Alvarez said she conducted research on topics of interest in the community and did a phone survey to Park and Escalante parents, then created the topic list for each meeting. Her goal is to help attendees with practical matters; but the foundation of her work is to build trusting relationships.
“I love my schools and I am very passionate about my work,” she said. “During my time as a liaison, I have closely observed the needs of parents in the Spanish-speaking community. I have listened to them, and as a mother and an immigrant I understand them. Parents have opened their hearts and given me their trust, and that is why I am motivated to carry out this new project.”
Families interested in attending Escuela para Padres should contact Gabriela (“Gabby”) at