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SHINE THE LIGHT: Inclusivity within a Community

This is the final post in a three-story series sharing how local Catholic schools used a small communications capacity building grant from the Crimsonbridge Foundation to serve, reach, engage, and enroll Hispanic students and families.

Over the past few years, Elizabeth Seton High School, an all-girls high school located in Prince George’s County, MD, has demonstrated that Latina enrollment and engagement is a priority. In 2015, Elizabeth Seton established a Latina Scholars program, an innovative program that includes mentoring, internship opportunities, leadership development, and scholarship support for a cohort of Hispanic students. In 2018, Sister Ellen Marie Hagar, president of Elizabeth Seton, decided to apply for and use a Bridges for Schools grant to hire a Latina Liaison to bolster the school’s efforts to build an inclusive school community. The results were impressive.

The Latina Liaison worked to increase communications between the school and Spanish-speaking parents by translating electronic newsletters, assisting parents with financial aid applications, and building relationships with parents through one-on-one phone calls and meetings. The Liaison also attended Elizabeth Seton’s Back to School Night to introduce herself to the parents of incoming freshmen. Sister Ellen Marie hoped that parents left Back to School Night feeling supported and confident “because the school had provided a clear avenue for them to be involved in the life of the school and a clear pathway for asking questions and resolving doubts.”

Elizabeth Seton High School plans to maintain this focus on inclusivity within their school and neighboring community. Latino parent ambassadors are encouraged to volunteer to help with both the enrollment and registration processes, and a professional translator will be hired to translate during private meetings between the school administration and Spanish-speaking parents.

“Parents can come to school and participate in scheduled activities,” shared Sister Ellen Marie, “but they can also come to school when they need assistance and know that they can be heard and helped because there is someone designated to serve them.”

Read the first and second posts in this series.


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