ENID, Okla. — Enid Public Schools has created a ELL liaison position to assist English Language Learner students and their families.
The ELL liaison is “the go-to” between all organizations and resources available in Enid and the diverse communities represented in the school district, according to district officials. Through those relationships, the liaison will determine students' needs and connect them with help.
There’s a lot of help to be had in Enid, assistant superintendent of elementary education Randy Rader said. The problem is, there’s not any one person who always knows where to find it.
“What we’re looking for is that one person that can go to all the different organizations ... and help coordinate,” Rader said.
Jennifer Fields, a longtime EPS teacher, recently was chosen to fill that role. She will start her new duties at the beginning of the school year.
Fields has been an ELL teacher at Longfellow Middle School for the last five of a 21-year career. It’s been five of the best, she said, getting to know her students, their cultures and even some of the difficulties they may face.
“Even as a teacher, we sometimes don’t know who is offering what resource,” Fields said. “Enid is such a giving and generous community ... we just need help coordinating.”
Fields’ office will be located in the Administrative Services Center, but the idea is for her to be out and about town as often as possible, Rader said. Meeting, greeting and listening are cornerstones of the job.
“One of the mistakes we sometimes make is telling people what they need, instead of reacting to their needs,” Rader said. “We want this person to be reacting.”
EPS is modeling the role after a very similar position that exists in the Springdale, Ark., school district. Like Enid, Springdale has a significant Marshallese and Micronesian population, as well as a Spanish-speaking demographic.
Language, cultural differences and the unfamiliarity of a new home can all be barriers to finding help in a given community.
After administrators visited the Springdale district, they decided a liaison could be beneficial in Enid as well.
To start, the liaison’s pay and hours will be the same as a teacher’s, but that could change in the future.
“With the position being so new, we’re kind of building the airplane as we go,” Rader said. “We have a vision, but until we know all the needs and all the requirements of the job it’s going to be hard to know exactly what it’s worth and what it will take to get it done.”