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Stafford Schools focus on commitment to cultural inclusivity, family engagement

From Stafford County Schools:

Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) is increasing its commitment to global diversity and to reaching its families in their native languages. The school division recently hired 10 international teachers, recognized 30 staff members with the global seal of biliteracy, and will launch Spanish versions of its division-wide social media sites.

“Our county is seeing an increase in diversity, and our school division should reflect that – not just in staff representation, but also in the ways we connect with our families,” said Dr. Stanley B. Jones, SCPS Interim Superintendent. “These measures are three of many ways we are demonstrating our intentionality of reaching every family, every student, every time.”

Currently, SCPS staff members hail from China, Ghana, Columbia, and Puerto Rico. This year, the division added eight international teachers from four countries, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ecuador, through cultural exchange visas.

“This is a great opportunity for bringing and sharing elements of their home cultures with their school communities and returning to their home countries with information/context they can share about their experience in the United States,” said Patrick Byrnett, SCPS Executive Director of Human Resources. “We are excited for this cross-sharing of culture and look forward to growing together as a learning community.”

Diverse learning environments are beneficial to all students, and spoken languages contribute to that diversity. The Global Seal of Biliteracy is an opportunity for bilingual individuals to certify their proficiency in a language other than English. Although there are many different tests available to assess proficiency, SCPS uses the STAMP test. This evaluation tool assesses participants based on their ability to read, write, speak, and listen in the target language.

“The purpose of this opportunity is to celebrate the linguistic abilities and diversity of our staff. This certification also provides confidence in the individual’s ability to communicate with families that speak the same language,” said Victoria Basile, SCPS Facilitator of World Language and Culture. “Also, we want our staff to share their language proficiency with students as a way to encourage enrollment in the advanced levels of our world languages program.”

The division recognized 23 individuals with a Global Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish, 2 in Japanese, 2 in French, 1 in Polish, 1 in German, and 1 in Arabic.

 

The school division has also hired for a newly created division-wide Spanish interpreter/translator position. The individual will create and maintain SCPS Spanish social media sites for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in addition to translating all division-wide communication such as letters, flyers, graphics, and newsletters. Additionally, the interpreter will attend all SCPS community events to further engage families and promote goodwill on behalf of the school division.

“Currently, we have more than 3,200 parents and guardians who have elected their preferred home communication language as Spanish,” said Dr. Jones. “Providing them with information regarding their students in a highly consumable manner will help strengthen the teacher-family relationship, which ultimately benefits the student and that remains our most important goal.”

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