The ability to communicate effectively is sometimes taken for granted when everyone involved is speaking the same language. But for Spanish speaking families in the Cascade area, that effectiveness was sometimes lost.

That’s the impetus behind “Cascade High School ELL,” a new Facebook page created recently by Katie Barnes, ELL teacher at Cascade Jr./Sr. High School. She said the reason behind the additional communication tool is simple, “I really wanted (ELL families) to be aware of the great things happening at school. I knew other teachers had created Facebook pages or groups with information about their classes, so I thought this would be a good way to keep parents and families in the loop.”

The page has been live for about two weeks, but Barnes said she is already seeing some of the differences it will make. “I started the page and posted about our upcoming conferences. We had the best conference turnout from our Spanish-speaking families since I started here four years ago, so I definitely think this is helping with communication. Also, I talked with families at conferences about the page, and the feedback was very positive. They were excited to see what is happening with their children at school and stay in the loop about upcoming events. They also appreciated that they can message me in Spanish if they ever have a question or concern.”

Barnes said she had the backing of school administration, who think it is a good way to get information to the school’s Spanish-speaking families.

She also said it’s a key component in helping the families not only feel like they’re involved in their children’s education, but in the community as a whole. “I think it's important for our families to feel involved in our school and community. I also want an open line of communication between home and school. Some of our families don't use email, but they are on Facebook and Messenger every day. If they can shoot me a message about a question or to let me know about an appointment, it makes it easier for them.”

Barnes wants to help make sure the connection between home and school is clear and convenient for everyone. “I never want someone to feel like they can't communicate with school. I would imagine it's difficult to try to call school and talk to someone in English when you speak mostly Spanish. With this page, they can send a message in Spanish, and we can have someone call and talk to them in Spanish if we need more information. I think it will just make communication a lot easier.”