The sixth graders at Rose Hill Middle School worked on an exciting new unit on ecosystems restoration in science this fall. During this unit, students not only learned what makes a healthy forest ecosystem but also got the opportunity to plan and execute their very own restoration project for a damaged ecosystem on Rose Hill’s campus.
Equity in Communication Collaborative Action Network
LWSD supports Spanish-speaking families through local partnership
Weekly Spanish bulletin provides families with culturally-relevant district news
Lake Washington School District (LWSD) has joined forces with the Lake Washington Schools Foundation, Bellevue School District, Bellevue Schools Foundation, Eastside Pathways, and Equity in Communication Collaborative Action Network, as part of the Remote Learning and Living Collective Action Network (now known as the Equity in Communication Collaborative Action Network), convened by Eastside Pathways. The partnership was formed with a shared goal of better supporting our community of Spanish-speaking and Latinx families through thoughtful and culturally-relevant communications.
Breaking down language barriers in a pandemic
A workgroup of the partnership, the Remote Learning and Living Collective Action Network, was created to share and discuss ways to help Spanish-speaking families at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was clear that language would be a barrier for Latinx families and students receiving information in a culturally responsive way. Often, when information is translated, it lacks cultural context and is not understood or is hard to navigate.
To address this barrier, the Remote Learning and Living Collective Action Network conducted a focus group in fall 2020 to address the immediate and emerging needs of families during remote learning. Families shared where they needed support, what they had been struggling with, and what had been helpful.
Responding to student and family needs
The group learned that many families do not have or use email and that Google translate does not give information in a culturally relevant, understandable manner. The group also found that social media was the primary means through which families accessed information.
The focus group responses led to the creation of 15-minute, bi-weekly video newsletters. The newsletters provided information delivered by native Spanish speakers from Lake Washington School District and Bellevue School District in Spanish and were made available on Facebook and YouTube.
Positively impacting students and families
The video newsletters were designed to include up-to-date news from both school districts, information about district or school related programs and how to access these programs, and ways to continue to navigate the school system.
"All the videos have been informative and helpful. In the translation from districts, concepts get lost. Information does not make sense in written translation. Love the videos. Thank you for the videos and for this group."
- Parent feedback from spring focus group
In spring 2021, another focus group was held to hear from families who had watched the videos. Families shared that they found the videos incredibly helpful in understanding what was happening in their child’s school district. They liked receiving information in their own language on a platform that allows for comments. Additionally, the ability to share the video newsletters with other families helped broaden their reach, helping even more families navigate the public school system.
Now produced on a weekly basis, the video newsletter has become vital in providing more equitable access to district information, allowing families to better support their students. Project partners are looking forward to continuing this work, finding new ways to support and engage families, and having a positive impact on the Latinx community.
Thank you, community partners
This work would not be possible without the collaboration of all partners of the Equity Communication Collaborative Action Network partners, including: Eastside Pathways, Lake Washington School District, Lake Washington Schools, Bellevue School District, Bellevue Schools Foundation, KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Sistema Escolar USA, City of Kirkland, and King County Housing Authority.