This winter, Somerville Public Schools sponsored 27 staff members in an intensive interpretation and translation workshop through the University of Massachusetts Translation Center. “The workshop provided us the opportunity to increase language capacity across the district with multilingual staff from different departments,” states Superintendent Mary Skipper. “These dedicated staff members are critical to strengthening the home-school connection by engaging parents and guardians in their own languages and as a result, helping to improve educational outcomes for students from multilingual backgrounds.”
Hard Work and Dedication
The Interpreter and Translator in Education Workshop Series was an intense seven weeks, consisting of a weekly two-hour class and three hours of independent study. Despite the demanding curriculum and time commitment, every SPS staff member who enrolled in the class successfully completed it without missing a single class. Staff were school liaisons, Multilingual Services and Special Education Interpreters, and mainstream and special education classroom paraprofessionals. Everyone was committed to completing and learning the material.
Increasing Engagement through Increased Interpretation Skills
It takes more than knowing and understanding two languages fluently to be an interpreter. The course taught participants strategies, as well as issues around ethics and confidentiality. High quality, professional interpretation and translation supports parent engagement, which in turn supports student learning. Participants in this workshop work all over the district. These staff members bring their new skills into Kindergarten, preschool, and special education classes and provide support with School Committee meeting interpretation. The program also benefits our staff members personally as professionals; these skills are highly valued and will support their career aspirations.
The workshop participants developed skills that ensure a higher level of quality communication between parents and the district, and sponsoring 27 students reflects Somerville’s commitment to equity. Our interpreters use their skills on a daily basis interacting with parents and this workshop helped them build their skills. Enrollment Office Director Regina Bertholdo says, “our staff workshop participants are dedicated and committed to the course, which reflects the commitment to the work that they do every day.”
R. Ronen, Communications