Imagine loving your children’s school experience so much, you end up joining the administration team. Erica Briseno can truly relate—she started out as a parent volunteer and is currently the front office manager at San Diego Cooperative Charter School (SDCCS) in California. She’s been serving in this role since 2016 after the school first asked her to help sub in the front office which evolved into a full-time position for her.
Approximately 40% of students at SDCCS are Latino. Erica’s role involves reaching out to the Hispanic or Latino community. She believes representation is essential.
“Latino people have been told to be quiet, but here,” Erica notes, “Here, they have a voice, and it’s home. They don’t see the difference; they just see a community that has embraced them.”
Erica has a son in the fifth grade and a daughter in the fourth grade at SDCCS. Her oldest child who is now in college attended the school in grades five through eight. Erica’s positive impact at the school has not gone unnoticed—in fact, she has inspired more parents to volunteer. SDCCS’s education director shared more how instrumental Erica has been.
“Erica has always been a really engaged parent and has her finger on the pulse of the Latino community. She will pick up the phone and call parents, will translate parents, helping connect to the Latino parents – with all of the volunteering and meetings,” said Sarah Saluta, SDCCS Education Director.
Also in California, Idalia Rodriguez knew when she first enrolled her son into McGill School of Success that she wanted to get involved. She started out volunteering and then served on the board for seven years, in the roles of secretary, vice president, and president (last year), and is currently still a member.
“Idalia’s voice as board president was crucial as she was the only Latino/a on the board that served a school with 80% Latino student population” says McGill School of Success Principal and CEO Norma Sandoval. “Parents like Idalia play a key role in advocating for all children.”
Idalia’s son attended the school from kindergarten through fifth grade and is now a student at High Tech Middle Media School. Her daughter is currently in the third grade McGill School of Success.
“I like it because I want my daughter to relate to kids with her heritage.” Idalia adds, “We have a principal who likes to teach about diversity and have an understanding where they came from and how they can impact their community as a whole.”
Idalia believes with the challenges around immigration reform, we can teach our children to be leaders and set a positive example.
Idalia says, “We need to teach our youth that no matter what the challenges they face, understanding and being proud of your heritage only empowers you to be more successful and open to the diversity that surrounds the community you live in.”
Thank you to Erica and Idalia, and all parents who engage in their children’s learning. Parent voice is essential in helping to shape school culture and their children’s learning experience.
Brittnee Exum is the manager of communications and marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.