Many paths, one goal

By Erik Martinez

We all have walked different paths (caminos) in our lives. Some of us have traveled many miles from our countries of origin to the United States to live in Eagle County. About one-third of the families enrolled in Eagle County Schools tell us that Spanish is their primary language spoken at home. We know from enrollment data that 52% of our student body is Hispanic/Latino.

Over time, the use of technology adopted by school districts has allowed parents to track their child’s academic progress, pay for lunches, and maintain a bus pass for transportation. Unless, of course, you don’t have access to the Internet, have little experience with computers, or speak a different language. Enter Los Caminos (“The Pathways”), a workshop for Spanish-speaking parents where we train families on how to access PowerSchool, SchoolCafé, and SmartTag.

In addition to technical assistance, we also encourage parents to build relationships with their school teachers and administrators. We provide tips on how to support their children in school. We show them the many pathways through school to adulthood.

We touch on cultural differences between the United States and Latin American countries. In Latin America, educational professionals are as respected as doctors or lawyers. Schools in these countries are not as inviting to parents as in the United States. I don’t recall my parents volunteering in my classroom or school office during my school career in Mexico.

We asked our Spanish-speaking parents to push past the cultural barriers to play a bigger part in their school communities, to use bilingual friends, children, or district interpreters to help with the language. We ask our English-speaking parents to be patient, welcoming, and to push past the language challenge.

We can communicate a lot with a simple smile, a hearty handshake, and a bit of laughter. Do you know what we talked about and laughed about during the workshop? Our children! Our experiences as parents. Our concerns, hopes, and expectations for our children. The conversation is the same, only the language is different.

This month, we reached 30+ families in our first two Los Caminos sessions. The response has been very positive! A third workshop will likely bring the total trained close to 50. That session is on Monday, Oct. 21, at Berry Creek Middle School in Edwards. Visit eagleschools.net/caminos or call 970-328-4807 if interested in attending. We ask all participants to do one thing in return for the training — share their knowledge with at least one other family. Sharing turns 50 knowledgeable parents into 150 and those 150 into 300.

Regardless of our paths, when talking to Latino parents or Anglo parents, there is one common goal: we want the best for our children.


Erik Martinez is a parent and Family Outreach Liaison for Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at erik.martinez@eagleschools.net.