Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Friday, August 17, 2018 11:36 am
Nov. 2, 2016

Melissa Young: Latino Achievement Coordinator

by Mehana Daftary, Editor-in-Chief
Melissa Young joined Blair staff this 2016-17 school year as the Latino Achievement Coordinator. The position was created to help Spanish-speaking students succeed in academics with the support of their families.

The position was created after Principal Johnson observed the need for more Spanish-speaking staff to serve the 31 percent of Latino students. At a school with such a large percentage of Spanish speaking students, Johnson felt it was imperative. "Ms. Johnson shared with me that she felt like it was really time to do something, so when her bosses authorized the position, she contacted me," Young said.

Young interacts with Blair's Spanish-speaking students and families to help bridge the language barrier. "We've been working on not only the work students do for classes, but also seeing what they need to do better because they are students who have not been doing as well as they could," Young said. She checks up on students and works with academic support classes to help tailor their learning.
Young, a new member of Blair staff, busy at work. Catherine Horowitz
Young, a new member of Blair staff, busy at work.

Young has taught at several Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) schools in the past, including Blake High School and White Oak Middle School. She has been in the county since 1990, teaching mostly Spanish and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Young has helped many students, including junior Brandon Chavarria, improve their grades by providing resources and supplies. "She has helped us in many ways; she gives us daily report cards and assignments so we know what we have to do to bring up our grades. If we need supplies like binders and highlighters, she’ll provide those for us," Chavarria said.

Young provides students with help in fields besides academics, including Student Service Learning (SSL) hours and other events. "Sometimes she tell us events that are going in school so that we can get our SSL hours. She also gives us supplies that we need for school," freshman Yenmis Quiñones said.

Students welcome Young and what she does for the school. "My mom doesn't speak English very well, so I think it would helpful to bridge communication problems," junior Stephanie Montes de Oca said.
Latino Achievement Coordinator Melissa Young stands outside her office in the Media Center. Catherine Horowitz
Latino Achievement Coordinator Melissa Young stands outside her office in the Media Center.

Other programs exist to help bridge the language gap as well. MCPS translators and interpreters and the Language Line are all available resources for students and families. Arranging these resources prior to a meeting can be cumbersome.

Young provides a contact for parents at the school that are not comfortable with speaking English. "Though there are other services, it's much better for parents to know that they can call the school and be able to talk to someone," Young said.

Young previously coordinated with Spanish-speaking families in addition to teaching Spanish classes, which was a large task. This job has afforded her the opportunity to focus her efforts on just helping Spanish-speaking students and their families. "I'm really enjoying concentrating on doing this job rather than having to do it while teaching five classes," Young said.

Young has seen that her job is needed at Blair; as students and families need her help to communicate with the school. "I've been able to help students, families, and teachers communicate in a way they could not have done previously. I'm feeling very needed, which feels good," Young said.

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