English Language Learner families gathered during a Dec. 13 parent workshop for updates on technology, an overview of student and parent/guardian supports and small break out groups for question and answer sessions.

More than 40 families gathered for the event, with English as a Second Language teachers and bilingual interpreters on hand to provide language assistance in Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish, according to a district press release. Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds also welcomed the crowd to the event. 

Vicky Chang, the district's supervisor of English as a Second Language and world language, shared ways for ELL families to connect with schools and introduced ways for parents to be supportive, according to a Dec. 21 community message from Ponds.

"This was an excellent ESL night and a great way to connect with folks,” a caregiver said at the event, according to the release. “I will try to encourage my child to reach out to other ESL friends." 

Christopher Graber, the district’s Director of Technology, explained the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which provides devices and internet connectivity to those who need it at home, and how to reach the technology office team, the release says. Chromebooks were available for attendees to learn how to find school forms, reset their password, and check student grades and attendance in Genesis, the student information system. 

Andre Aparcana, a district IT technician shared four Spanish tutorial videos for navigating Genesis, according to the release.

"So grateful for the technology department director to share the information and for bringing all the Chromebooks for us to get experience on,” a parent said at the event. 

Nicholas Santangelo, a Montclair High School counselor, also introduced the K-12 Counseling Team, and explained their roles, the release says.

Childcare was provided by Montclair High School student-volunteers: Alexandra Gawler, Natalie Mora Rojas, Luaciana Urquijo, Antonia Greer and Aurora Avid.

“The district will continue to provide more family engagement activities as we welcome our ELL families,” Ponds said in the community message. “On the horizon for school year 2023-24 is an adult education program through the partnership with Essex County College, that will include both ESL and workforce classes for our ELL families but also will be open to our entire school community.”