Riverview School District


Carnation Elementary's 2017 Hispanic Family Night
Engages Families and Makes Connections

On Thursday, January 19, 2017, Carnation Elementary took the simple gesture of a phone call and made it something meaningful. Beginning with an idea which originated from one of Riverview’s English Language Learner Specialists, Kaeleigh Wilson, and funded via a grant award from the Riverview Education Foundation (REF), the recent 2017 Hispanic Family Night was a tremendous success.

One goal, among many, was to promote and encourage school-home relations and communications, and the evening turned out to be a fun, positive, engaging experience for those in attendance. In total, 54 people came to the event and interacted with their student’s teachers, support staff, and district administrators.

Wilson was quick to praise an invaluable partner in the organization and execution of the event.

“(Dr.) Randy Stocker (Carnation Elementary principal) has mentioned the importance of our Family Engagement Specialist, Maribel Paniagua, and the amazing work she does in our school and our community,” said Wilson. Rather than relying exclusively on conventional promotion of the event, Paniagua took the simple act of placing a phone call, several in fact, to each Hispanic family in the Carnation school community. “She personally invited each and every family to join us for an evening of math games, bingo, a bilingual book check-out, and pizza.”

Wilson’s work with Carnation third-grade teacher Brianna Grant identified a gap not being met for English language learning students. The decision to apply for a REF grant was an effort to fill that gap in an impactful and meaningful way.

“Working with Brianna, I noticed that many of our EL students are craving books in their native language but that also bridge to their second language – English,” Wilson notes. “These new students experience something of a culture shock and would love a great book in their native language to dive into and feel at home in their new school culture.”

Dual language books provide one page of text in English and the same words next to it in a reader’s native language. The REF Grant allowed Wilson and her team to have more than 300 bilingual books available for families to read together and check out and bring home. The feedback from families was overwhelmingly positive.

One family shared that this was time they seldom, if ever, get to spend with their children. Another family was thrilled that they could share books with one another in both Spanish and English. Yet another family mentioned how much they appreciated “the teachers, the principal, and Maribel’s attention and courtesy.” They concluded their comments with mentioning, “everything was beautiful.”