#AlumLoVVe: Celebrating CCSD's Family & Community Engagement Coordinator Debbie Palacios
From the moment I stepped into my third grade classroom one August morning in 2005, as parents anxiously delivered their most prized possessions into my hands, I knew I had a passion for working with students, but also with their families. While my “official” two year commitment ended in 2007, I have continued to be a leader in the Clark County School District (CCSD). I am currently a Coordinator with CCSD’s Family and Community Engagement Services (FACES), whose vision is for all schools, families, and communities to be partners in education ensuring the success of all children.
My experience in the corps exemplified the idea that collective impact is truly greater than its individual parts. I learned quickly that by partnering with all stakeholders, such as parents, other teacher leaders, community members, etc., my students were more likely to succeed. It was up to me to begin to establish and nurture those relationships within my school community. For example, when I realized that my students’ parents wanted to increase their English skills in order to help their children, I offered an adult English learning class after school.
It seems almost natural that I have ended up in my current role. As a department, FACES focuses on motivating and mobilizing resources for families so that they have the tools and skills to advocate for their children and be engaged in their education. We train school staff on how to engage and partner with their families and their community, and offer parent learning opportunities through the University of Family Learning, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work. We host an annual Ceremony of Achievement that recognizes those parents and family members who have completed 50 hours of coursework in the University of Family Learning. As the parents walk across the stage to receive their certificate, it takes only a quick glance at their children, who are in the audience proudly taking pictures, to know we are going in the right direction.
Ultimately, I am so thankful for my corps experience, as I know it has made me the educator I am today. Now that I am not only a CCSD employee but also a CCSD parent, I know exactly how much trust those parents put in me when I was in the classroom. And like them, I am willing to do anything to help my child and my child’s teacher, but may need help on how.
When I reflect on my career thus far, I am reminded of a card given to me by Maria, a student in my very first class. She wrote me a message that read, “you are the best teacher in the whole world.” She had then crossed out the word “world” and replaced it with “school.” In that one sentence, Maria reminded me to stay humble, that there’s always room for improvement, and that my work is not done.