English Language Learner and Multilingual Learner Parent Events
13th Annual Hispanic Parents Leadership Conference
By Beverly Guity | Resource Specialist
Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network
On November 8th, 2019, the 13th Annual Hispanic Parents Leadership Conference was held at Manhattanville College co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network. Keynote speaker, Dr. Zoila Morrell, Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Childhood Education at Lehman College, reinforced to families the beauty and advantage of being bilingual. Dr. Morrell shared her experience immigrating to the United States and the extreme value and pride she has for having the privilege of being bilingual. Currently, Dr. Morrell is working closely with the Peekskill City School district and their bilingual programs, specifically in the area of early childhood. She shared student work which highlighted the importance of families maintaining their native languages as a means to tapping into a child's understanding of the world and their surroundings.
This year’s conference hosted 170 parents and 30 teachers, staff and presenters from districts across the Hudson Valley, including White Plains, New Rochelle, Elmsford, Ossining, Peekskill and Port Chester. During the conference, which was held entirely in Spanish, families had the opportunity to attend various workshops that provided them with valuable information regarding the academic rights of their students, and allowd them to access various resources and strategies to better support their students beyond the classroom.
New York State English Language Learner (ELL) parent events are held annually throughout the state and are sponsored by the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL) and a partner institution, such as a Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network. The first OBEWL/RBERN sponsored New York City Parent Academy was held at Columbia University's Teachers College in 2014, and the second was organized by the teams at the New York State Regional Bilingual Education Resource Center (RBERN) at Fordham University and the New York State Statewide Language RBERN at New York University, with support from OBEWL.
At the 2015 New York City event, over 554 parents, persons in parental relation, teachers, counselors, parent coordinators, and advocates convened on October 29th at New York University. The day long event started with greetings from NYSED Deputy Commissioner of Instructional Support Services Angelica Infante-Green, in which she encouraged parents to be better informed about their rights so that they can have the freedom to select the best education for their children. Lissette Colón-Collins, NYSED Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, followed with an overview of the importance of the day’s activities. Lastly, Yolanda Torres, Executive Superintendent, Division of Family and Community Engagement provided a welcome from the New York City Department of Education. The featured speaker was Andrés Lara from Success Training, Inc. who spoke on “Motivating Students to Move Forward to College and Career Readiness.” Simultaneous interpretation was made available in seven languages thanks to the Office of Translation and Interpretation of NYCDOE.
Following the morning presentations, participants attended informative workshops conducted in seven languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, and Spanish) and English covering: the Parent’s Bill of Rights for English Language Learners; NYSED Commissioner’s Regulation Part 154 which governs services for ELLs; and the ELL Parent Hotline and Website. Bilingual materials were provided to parents from multiple contributors such as Advocates for Children, United Health Care, and Univision, among others. The workshops for various languages were conducted by Language and NYC RBERN staff.
Parents expressed their gratitude for this opportunity to obtain information on the various NYSED initiatives, such as how they can best help their children towards the path to college and career readiness. They stated how sharing this experience at this academy with other parents of various language communities broadened their understanding of the need for participation and collaboration to support their youngsters' success. They look forward to more conferences and workshops.