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Language Services Keeps Families Informed
Language Services Keeps Families Informed
Posted on 04/07/2020
A collage showing members of Language Services working from home.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Translators and interpreters in the BCS Language Services Department are vital to keep all of our families informed, especially as they navigate Virtual Days online classes.

A crew of 16 people mobilized at the start of the COVID-19 crisis to rapidly increase the department’s translation and interpretation services. They connect families who at home speak primarily Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

“We are calling families to make sure they have what they need,” said Language Services Coordinator Liceth Sherlin. “We interpret for teachers, translate written messages, help families with technology needs, and try to provide as much information as we can.”

It’s a lot of work, with all the information going out about schedule changes, online instruction, and community resources, but these dedicated professionals are stepping up, she said.

“Every day they’re ready to translate messages, long or short,” she said. “It’s an excellent team of service-minded people. They want to help our families. They’re willing to do anything to make this communication possible. I tell them all the time, they’re awesome people.”

Put simply, the Language Services Department honors and celebrates language diversity and believes that everyone has a right to receive important information regarding their child's education in their native language, said Translator/Interpreter Julia Krusenbaum.

“I find my work important because it honors and recognizes language diversity. It sends the message to families that we honor their home language; that it's not something they have to give up to be a part of the school community.” - Julia Krusenbaum, Language Services“I find my work important because it honors and recognizes language diversity. It sends the message to families that we honor their home language; that it's not something they have to give up to be a part of the school community,” she said. “I find it rewarding to see the relief and trust that this cultivates for our families.”

Ms. Lourdes Lopez has been working primarily with Spanish-speaking families. Even though in-person interpretation services have been temporarily suspended, she is adapting to helping families and schools over the telephone and online.

“It’s especially important to me that people understand not just the literal words, but the gestures and tone of voice that convey the original message,” she said. “Keeping the lines of communication open between school and parents/guardians is extremely valuable and very essential, particularly during an unprecedented health crisis like the one we are currently experiencing.”

The parents have been very appreciative, said Russian Translator/Interpreter Katrina Hagen.

“Some families don’t always understand what messages are about regarding administration of schools and the school board,” she said. “We help them understand what resources are available and how to access them. I know that people need help, and I’m happy to provide it.”

BCS teachers are thankful too, said Translator/Interpreter Maria Bruce.

“The staff is appreciative that they are able to reach out to these families the same way that they can reach an English-speaking family, and they can keep them informed and involved,” she said.

Especially for families in small ethnic communities, Translation Services creates a real link to their kids’ development and learning at school, added Vietnamese Translator/Interpreter Huong Nguyen.

“The focus is always about the kids,” she said. “I will assist the community and the school system in any way I can so that all students can reach their full potential, as is the mission of Buncombe County Schools.”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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