KEYC - Helping New Families Adjust To New Schools

Helping New Families Adjust To New Schools

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OWATONNA, Minn. -

When families move to a new school district, the transition can include a few bumps, not just for the students but also the parents.

For families new to the community or new to the country, the Owatonna School District has developed tools and resources to help make the transition less daunting.

Owatonna Public Schools Director of Community Education Debbie McDermott-Johnson said, "District certainly has made language liaisons available to help provide the interpretation and understanding for their families as they build their own English skills."

Adding to the foundation, a $50,000 grant awarded to the United Way of Steele County is being used to design and implement a pilot program to help engage families who move to the area from another city, state or country in the schools and community.

United Way of Steele County Director of Strategic Operations Tanya Paley said, "Addressing the needs that all families face when they come into a community, especially a smaller community like we are. We identified this need through a town hall meeting and community conversations."

Otto Bremer Trust announced the grant last week, and now the United Way in partnership with the school district is turning the idea into reality including looking at the resource of how parents can help each other.

Paley said, "Platform that we can launch to help volunteers connect and mentor these new families."

McDermott-Johnson said, "There just needs to be more avenues that families can interact not only with school and community personnel but also with each other."

Mentorship on topics like testing, STEM education and specialized programs to help bring understanding to all education system has to offer that can have ripple effects throughout the community.

United Way of Steele County Executive Director Kim Schaufenbuel said, "It has the capacity to not only help those families to be able to be participative but also to help the local businesses and organizations benefit from their participation as well."

Planning is still in the early stages, but the hope is to have some pieces of the pilot program in place by the start of this school year.

--KEYC News 12