Better with bilingual: how one CCLC leverages teachers’ talents with families

16691858104_43fa85394d_zTwenty percent of American families speak Spanish in their homes, which is why centers like CCLC at West Palm Beach, Florida, have made greater efforts to connect with families in the language most comfortable for them.

“Parents want Spanish-speaking teachers. That gives us an edge,” says CCLC center director Sharon Alaimo.

Several of her teachers are fully bilingual, proud of how they can help a child develop proficient English skills while still share the same child’s progress with a parent in their native language. Sharon makes sure families meet these teachers early when considering enrolling at her center. Sometimes those teachers will help translate a document or lead a tour.

To best connect with families of all backgrounds Sharon has hired right. Fourteen members of the staff come from Cuba, Honduras and Venezuela. “They are an integral part of the community,” she says, and families feel it.

Amina Gutierrez says the center is “like a second home” for son Alejandro, 5. “They teach the kids so much stuff, and they teach us too.”

When teachers know they are relied on to help families, it helps them to also feel more invested in the center’s success.

“It’s a plus,” says teacher Cathy Tavarez, a four-year veteran of the center. “We can help them and communicate better and speak with them about their children.”

And regardless the words, the welcoming nature of all the staff conveys a warmth that translates across any language.

“Everybody’s nice and cares,” said David Diaz, father a five-year-old boy at the center. “I feel he is in good hands.”

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