At the archdiocesan School Superintendent’s Office, the Latino Outreach Program helps Hispanic families navigate the intricacies of school application, enrollment and financial aid procedures, in Spanish for parents and guardians who are not fluent in English or simply feel more at ease with their native language. The outreach efforts include the use of social media.
“We encourage Latino families to learn more about the difference of a Catholic school education, find a school nearby and apply,” program director Maria Zamorano told Catholic New York last week. “We are here to assist Spanish-speaking families with information, answer questions and provide assistance with the admissions process.”
Ms. Zamorano said the Latino Outreach Program provides families with a bilingual parent call center, (646)794-2885, open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are celebrating Catholic Schools Week Jan 30 to Feb 5,” she explained. “Prospective parents are welcome to schedule a phone call or visit (after school hours), at any time, with the school or schools of their choice.” They should visit https://catholicschoolsny.org/school-finder On the main page, www.catholicschoolsny.org click Español on the upper-right corner.
“We promote the schools in various ways, including social media. And families can do the entire application process in Spanish,” Ms. Zamorano said. “We use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in English and Spanish” to promote the grade schools and provide information.
She said the Latino Outreach Program began five years ago, and the social media component started two years ago. Use of social media by Hispanic families has grown since the schools’ office introduced that facet, Ms. Zamorano said.
“And they can call the parent call center if they have any questions or if they need some sort of assistance,” she said. “Like how they can apply for financial aid or how they can enroll their children the next year; they can always call us, and we’ll assist them…Everything that comes from the Superintendent's Office (such as letters mailed to families) comes in Spanish as well as English.”
Ms. Zamorano, citing the availability of financial aid, noted, “We try to spread the word about Catholic schools in any way we can. We spread the word to parents through the parishes that Catholic school is a possibility…It is essential for Latino communities to be able to have access to information about Catholic schools in Spanish, in their native tongue. It makes it easier for them to navigate the information, to learn more about our schools, and to know that we are trying our best to assist them in any way we can.”
The families of prospective students are encouraged to also visit these information website links of the School Superintendent’s Office, found in the Español section:
Strong reasons to consider a Catholic school education: https://catholicschoolsny.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/ARCH-21906-Inserts-1-Visit-Us_FINAL_10-08-21.pdf
Information on finding a school and applying for admissions and financial aid (available at most schools for grades K-8) https://catholicschoolsny.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/ARCH-21906-Inserts-2-Welcoming_FINAL_10-08-21.pdf
Bertha Mercedes, a parent at Santa Maria School in the Bronx, said she and her husband Juan are grateful to Ms. Zamorano and Spanish-speaking school staff who have helped them navigate through Spanish-language informational material related to their two daughters’ education.
“We have a daughter in eighth grade and one in sixth grade,” Mrs. Mercedes said. “We are very content with the school; our daughters get good grades. “She (Ms. Zamorano) has helped in many ways, such as with the financial aid process, mainly by telephone and emails. She sends us information in Spanish and English.”
Mrs. Mercedes, who was born in Ecuador, cited the significance for her in having an academic official help her understand the various school-related procedures in her native Spanish. “It is very important; she has helped us a great deal.
“It’s like talking with a relative,” she said. “It makes a big difference.”