Co-Creating Supportive Spaces for Latino Students at Erwin Middle


This school year has been unlike any other as students, families, teachers, and staff have all made moves to navigate the virtual space together. Erwin Middle United Way Community School Coordinator Jocelin Rosas has been moving through those challenges alongside them--

  • Shifting gears to call Spanish-speaking families and ensure they have the information they need
  • Providing a virtual Google Classroom space to access free community resources
  • Coordinating partnerships with nonprofit organizations providing services like mentorship and support for students

Born in Venezuela, Rosas ability to connect with Spanish-speaking families is incredibly important to a school with 670 students with a 41% enrollment of primarily Hispanic students.  As a high-needs school that places in the bottom 50% of all North Carolina schools, Rosas knows how critical community partnerships are in providing mentorship and mental health support. She facilitates community partnerships with Journeymen, Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC, YMCA, and many more to help provide those supportive relationships and nurturing mental/emotional spaces around students, families, teachers, school, and community.


Supporting LatinX Students 

Rosas also credits Erwin Family Outreach Specialist Norma Brown for her incredible work supporting LatinX students for over a decade as well as being an incredible mentor for her. "She has this incredible ability to create space for the students to speak their language, honor their culture, and feel comfortable talking about their experiences leaving their country and learning a new language, and help foster their ability to find and hold a sense of pride."

Brown works to translate messages from the Principal to all foreign language students and provide supportive spaces for LatinX students to gather and feel comfortable speaking Spanish, sharing their stories, and connecting outside the classroom. 



Connecting Outside the Classroom

"Collaboration is so important," she says. "The roles become less petrified and create space for conversations and brainstorming to call on the students and parents voices in honest ways, to tell us how they're feeling and what they need."

For this reason, Brown started the group FAROS which translates to "lighthouse" in Spanish. FAROS stands for Freedom, Advocacy, and Resiliency for all Students. Similar to her long-standing group MANOS for Erwin High School LatinX students, FAROS is a space for LatinX students to meet one another, speak Spanish, share stories, and add more tools to that resiliency kit to be able to advocate for themselves. 


Creating Space + Meeting Families

  • Rosas attended a Restorative Practices training held this fall through United Way in partnership with renowned Restorative Practices trainer Kerri Berkowitz to become a trainer at Erwin Middle School. 
  • Rosas facilitates Welcome Warriors, a space to help gather students and empower them around issues they're passionate about using Restorative Practices.
  • A virtual Meet the Teacher was held with Rosas, Brown, and Erwin Middle ESL teacher to provide a space for Spanish-speaking families to ask questions and discuss their child's virtual learning for the school year.
  • An all-day drive through was held in October for students and families to have a no-contact space to receive their report cards and address tech questions. Interpreters were on-site to facilitate. Another drive-through will be held in November.

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