Delavan resident is assigned to district’s new Latino liaison position

Luis Solis

DELAVAN — In continued efforts to improve communication and connections with Delavan-Darien School District families, the district has hired community member Luis Solis as its new Latino liaison.

Solis, a Delavan resident and parent of four children in the district, will provide outreach for the district for all families, with a focus on Latino and Spanish-speaking families.

“Personal connections are very important in developing partnerships with our families,” said Phoenix Middle School Principal Mark Weerts. “Part of his responsibility will be to help make those personal, face-to-face conversations to ensure families and parents with students in our schools feel they are a true partner with our district.”

Solis has been an active community member and volunteer in the area, including volunteering with the school district. He ran unsuccessfully for the school board in April 2012, but was the first Latino candidate for school board in recent history. The current school board unanimously approved his hiring at the January board meeting.

“I think this is a great idea and Luis is a perfect candidate for it,” School Board Vice President Joe Peyer said before the vote to approve the position.

The creation of such a position in the district is consistent with the district’s strategic plan, which calls for the district to find ways to “actively engage families and strengthen partnerships within our diverse community…”

“Our strategic plan calls for a multitude of steps to accomplish that goal,” said Superintendent Robert Crist, who noted that providing support for home visits, organizing family nights, ensuring communications with families are offered in English and Spanish and recruiting bilingual volunteers were just some of the strategic plan steps that will benefit from having such a position. “We need our families to be engaged in their child’s learning so they can support their student or students to be successful.”

To start, Solis will work primarily out of Phoenix Middle School and with middle school students and families. He will work about 20 hours per week with much of the time spent in the community.

“I’m definitely excited to be here and I look forward to meeting with parents and helping build district connections with them,” Solis said. “I have seen a lot of other parents reaching out and becoming an active part of the district once a connection has been made. It’s great that the district is reaching out this way. We’re working, now. We’re not just talking. We’re doing. As a parent, citizen, and now staff member, I’m very proud of that.”

Solis said he hopes to bring a cultural understanding to both parents about Delavan-Darien schools, and to Delavan-Darien staff members about the district’s diverse community.

He also hopes to help the district and parents bridge language barriers that are sometimes prohibitive of developing essential school/family partnerships.

“That’s a key, definitely,” he said.

If position goals are met, the district will consider looking at hiring a female Latino liaison, as well, Crist said.

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