Family and Community Involvement

Family outreach and communication is an important component of the English Learner (EL) program. School-based Bilingual Family Liaisons serve as a connection between bicultural families and the school. The Office of English Learners sponsors school-based parent workshops that inform parents about the American school system, ways to effectively navigate it, suggestions for monitoring their child(ren)’s progress, and what they can do to become a parent leader and equal member of their child(ren)’s educational team. An active Citizens Advisory Committee makes yearly recommendations for program improvement. The Office of English Learners partners with community organizations such as Edu-Futuro (Educación Para Nuestro Futuro), Communities in Schools, and a variety of ventures that enhance the program.

Based upon Virginia Collier’s model of language acquisition, the philosophy of the program can be visualized in Collier’s Prism Model (1994):

Language Acquisition for School


In 1998, Arlington Public Schools published a set of principles and recommendations by which the education of English learners is best promoted. Two of the seven guiding principles recognize the importance of involving and working in partnership with families in order to enhance the academic achievement of ELs.

Principle 1: Educators, families and community share responsibility for the academic success of English learners in APS.

Principle 7: When parents see themselves and are seen by school staff as co-educators of their children, the academic and linguistic growth of ELs increase.

The Office of English Learners, with many years of experience in involving culturally and linguistically diverse families, provides the leadership, expertise, and support necessary for these principles to be translated into practice.

Bilingual/Bicultural Family Liaisons

Bilingual Family Liaisons

The Bilingual Family Liaison serves as a connection between bicultural families and the school and interprets and translates informal communications. The Bilingual Family Liaison is  a bilingual/bicultural individual who works closely with school staff members (e.g., Office of English Learners office staff, special education staff, teachers, administrators), students, parents, and professionals in the community.In addition to their many duties, the secondary Bilingual Family Liaisons plan and implement the annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference (LYLC).  Elementary and secondary Bilingual Family Liaisons Resource Assistants plan and support Harvesting Dreams, and other countywide activities.

EL Resource Counselors

The EL Resource Counselor provides direct counseling services to English learners and their families in the assigned secondary school(s).  These services include: individual and group counseling, workshops for parents and students, and crisis intervention for EL Extension students referred by teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, nurses, school staff, parents, and/or self.

Workshops, Activities and Events

PESA  (Parent Expectations Support Achievement)

PESA is designed to help parents and other caregivers of children to develop partnerships with local schools that focus on the development of a consistent environment of high expectations, standards, and care, which leads to achievement. PESA is the parent companion program to Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement (TESA). Facilitators have been trained to conduct the PESA Program with parents and provide them with tools, procedures, and techniques to strengthen parenting skills. Many local schools now offer PESA workshops.


PARTICIPA …in my Education was initiated in 1997 by one of Arlington Public Schools Special Projects that focuses on promoting family involvement. The PARTICIPA curriculum is authored by Dr. Rosa Briceño with support from Arlington Public Schools. It consists of 9 two-hour workshops that use a participatory, hands-on, and problem-posing approach to develop the capacity, skills, and confidence of Latino parents to participate actively in their children’s education. PARTICIPA …in my Education was written in Spanish and has been translated into English, Mongolian, and Arabic.

Latino Youth Leadership Conference (LYLC)

The Latino Youth Leadership Conference is held annually for selected Latino students in 8- th through 12th grades. The purpose of this one-day conference is to:

  • Foster leadership among Latino students by involving the students in the coordination of the event;
  • Inspire Latino students and provide positive role models by bringing successful Latinos as keynote speakers and workshop presenters;
  • Expose students to a college campus by holding the conference at a local college or university; and
  • Provide college and career information.


EL Citizens Advisory Committee

The EL Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) comprises a diverse group of concerned parents and community members who meet monthly. The Committee studies EL program issues, develops a report, and makes recommendations to the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI) each year. English/Spanish and English/Mongolian simultaneous interpretation is provided as appropriate to maximize the meaningful participation of its members.

Community Partnerships

Edu-Futuro (Educación Para Nuestro Futuro)formerly Escuela Bolivia

Since its inception, Edu-Futoro has worked to empower hundreds of Latino children, youth, and families through education and leadership development programs. Edu-Futuro serves Latino families of any origin and also teaches the broader community about the Latin American culture to enhance cross-cultural understanding. Core programs include:

  • Academic Language Programs: EduFuturo began as an academic enrichment program teaching Spanish to children and offering ESL and Spanish classes to parents and adults on  Saturdays.
  • Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), parts I and II: ELP is a leadership development program that serves up to 45 Latino high school students each year. Students are prepared for success through a series of workshops on topics such as building effective study skills, university campus visits, community service activities, and interaction with young, professional Latino or bilingual mentors.
  • Parent Leadership Initiative: Provides courses that train Latino parents to become advocates for their children’s education by improving communication in the home and strengthening involvement in schools.