Nuestra Comunidad: Parent liason helps entire school community

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The link between Fair Oaks Elementary School and the community of Marietta has a first and last name: Diana Rossie.

For the past eight years, Rossie has taken her role as parent liaison seriously, providing much needed help and guidance to the parents of the children who attend Fair Oaks. Rossie, a native of Venezuela, estimates that approximately 95 percent of the student population at this school are Latinos.

A key component to Rossie’s job is educating the parents about the importance of helping their children with homework and studying for exams at home.

“It’s my responsibility to give the parents bilingual classes in math, language, literature and other subjects. I’m also qualified to do visual and hearing tests on children, to figure out if they have difficulties in these areas,” she said.

For example, Rossie has partnered with the organization Parent to Parent of Georgia in order to provide workshops for parents of children with special needs.

“When we find out about a child with a special condition, such as autism, we guide the parents in how to act in the learning process, since the majority of them don’t know what autism is or other special conditions, and they don’t know what to do, they don’t know what benefits they have,” said Rossie.

This level of dedication led Rossie to become the first ever Latina recipient of the Georgia Impact Award in 2013, a recognition awarded by Parent to Parent through the public’s votes, for her work not just with special needs children, but also for her relationship with the community.

Ser Familia is another organization with which Rossie has made alliances and offers bilingual workshops to parents, in order to help them strengthen the family structure at home.

“I always say that if there are problems at home, children will reflect them at school. Another part of my job is to make sure that parents are doing well at home. If there are family problems, they need to be resolved between the adults and not get the children involved. These workshops also serve to help them resolve problems in the most appropriate way and also to help parents maintain control when their children misbehave,” she said.

Rossie also visits the mobile home park Hillcrest Place, where many children who attend Fair Oaks live. There, she speaks with parents about their needs and concerns, and she distributes clothing donated by local churches.

Susana Meza and Sandra Cuéllar, both mothers of Fair Oaks students, have personally witnessed Rossie’s actions.

“Ms. Rossie’s dedication to this community has been a huge benefit. She has always been concerned about us, and we can always count on her support with our children’s [academic] performance,” said Cuéllar.

For many, Rossie has become a beacon of hope within the community.

“Ms. Rossie is highly valued and trusted by the school community. Extended families and businesses in the area know that they can come to her for information and also come to her with ideas about how to have students at our school. She has become the face of our school to the community. When parents come here they immediately say they need to talk to Ms. Rossie,” said Cindy Szwec, principal of Fair Oaks.