Family Support Partners Create Connections

Family Support Partners Create Community Connections
Posted on 06/17/2022

Tahoma strives for a culture of belonging for every student and adult in our schools. That goal extends beyond students and staff, and includes the families we partner with in their child’s education. Many families could benefit from the community resources available to them, but they aren’t sure how to access them. Maybe they’re new to the area – or even the country – and need help settling into the district. Or maybe they don’t know how to access helpful resources like the Maple Valley Food Bank or Vine Maple Place.

Tahoma's Family Support Partners

To help meet these needs, Tahoma’s Equity leadership started the Family Support Partner (FSP) program. FSPs are parent volunteers at every district school, including two at Tahoma High School, who work with school counselors and registrars to connect families to school and community resources. A core principle of the program is that FSPs maintain confidentiality of students, families, and providers who they collaborate with.

“The Family Support Partners are a vital part of realizing our equity goal of making each student and family feel welcome in our schools,” said retiring Director of Equity Emilie Hard. “To have a volunteer FSP in each of our schools is an important step in providing another layer of support for families to connect them with people and resources that they need. I appreciate the support and partnership with our Family Engagement Committee in developing and implementing this program.”

The FSPs are available to:

- Introduce and facilitate access to school and district resources. (Examples of resources are the public library, our food bank, local medical facilities, sports programs, arts programs, district special programs and services, and district personnel.)

- Build partnerships in supporting student learning

- Strengthen communication with families who cannot easily access district and school messages.

The FSP program was started in early 2022. Tony Davis, incoming Director of Equity and Family Partnerships, is looking forward to seeing more families benefit this fall. He credited Ms. Hard for her work in getting the program off the ground. “This was another one of Emilie’s very successful projects. Over the last two years she has built a solid foundation for our work in equity.”

Marisha Telemaque, a volunteer FSP at Tahoma High School, saw the benefits of this type of program in her previous community, and was excited to get involved at Tahoma. “I think we will best serve the district by being available to all families, making everyone feel welcomed, assisting, and being a resource where we can. We will be able to step in and be a liaison between the district and households, keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront. We want to make sure that no one falls through the cracks.”

Here are the Family Support Partners at each school:

Kelly Neel - Tahoma High School
Marisha Telemaque - Tahoma High School
Shawna Morency - Maple View Middle School
Ally Gouk - Summit Trail Middle School
Kayleen Burnett - Cedar River Elementary
Kate Rickard - Glacier Park Elementary
Motoko Nakajima - Lake Wilderness Elementary
Victor Kitzes - Rock Creek Elementary
Ginny Usprung - Shadow Lake Elementary
Emma Kowalinski  - Tahoma Elementary

If your family, or a family you know, could benefit from additional support, please contact your school’s front office.

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