Reaching families in the community and bringing them fully into the educational life of the children studying in the Huntington School District is one of the goals of a new initiative that includes the hiring of two neighborhood aides.
Ileana Perez-Castillo and Minerva Cortes have joined the district’s staff and will be working to support outreach efforts in all eight school buildings. “They’ve already started community building by attending PTA meetings and other evening events,” Assistant Superintendent Beth McCoy said.
The pair of new staff members will serve as liaisons between the Huntington School District and the community at large, “encouraging parent participation in events,” Ms. McCoy said.
The initiative seeks to drive up the rate of parent involvement in the school life of their children. The two neighborhood aides will be supporting school principals in an effort to address parent concerns.
The new staff members are expected to host parent workshops that will be of interest to the school community. They will also be providing information and resources to parents that can be used to support their children at home.
“We are excited to welcome Ms. Perez-Castillo and Ms. Cortes to the Huntington family,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “They are both eager to assist in our community outreach efforts and to help us further emphasize the critical nature of the home-school connection. Their responsibilities will be varied, from developing educational workshops for parents and other family members to assisting during the broad range of evening events that already exist on the district calendar. They will surely help to augment the sense of community in which the district collectively takes tremendous pride.”
The district considered eight applicants before Mr. Polansky recommended Ms. Perez-Castillo and Ms. Cortes for appointment by the Huntington School Board.
Ms. Perez-Castillo obtained Bachelor of Arts (social welfare) and Master of Arts (social work) at the University of Puerto Rico in 1984 and 1985, respectively. She participated in a post-graduate program at CUNY-Hunter College in social work supervision and training in 1993.
Prior to beginning work in Huntington, Ms. Perez-Castillo was the coordinator of the Spirit of Huntington Art Center in Huntington Station, a bilingual professional development specialist with the Council for Professional Recognition and a bilingual social worker at the Interdisciplinary Center for Child Development in Bayside. She has also worked as a clinical resource manager and infant and maternal care social worker at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn. She holds a school social worker certificate issued by the State Education Department.
Ms. Cortes attended Suffolk County Community College and has worked as a bilingual case manager and as a bilingual community advocate at the Family Service League in Huntington. She holds a family development credential and completed training in cultural diversity, child sexual abuse, suicide training, sexual harassment and discrimination and HIPAA confidentiality.