- Columbus City Schools
National Family Engagement Month: Cranbrook Family Ambassadors Wahid Fareedzai and Maram Leghrouz
November 29, 2022 -- For Wahid Fareedzai and Maram Leghrouz, seeing students and families become more connected to their school is a highlight of being family ambassadors.
Family ambassadors are part-time vendors who work to engage families in schools. They are also a key component in the district’s new Authentic Engagement Priority in the Power of One Five-Year Strategic Plan. Fareedzai and Leghrouz started their roles at Cranbrook Elementary School this year.
“I’m so happy to be here at Cranbrook,” Leghrouz said. “I love beginning to work with families. What brought me here is I feel like a lot of families did not understand English as well as their other spoken languages, so I wanted to help them understand what is going on in their school and how they can help kids progress in their studies.”
“These students are future leaders,” Fareedzai added. “Working with them makes me happy. We are thankful for the opportunity to help schools, students, and their families.”
Leghrouz helps Arabic-speaking families, and Fareedzai helps Pashto-speaking families. Leghrouz said she saw some families who didn’t feel as connected because of a language barrier. She hopes to help families feel welcome and part of the school community.
“One thing I’ve seen is families who are new to the U.S. may not understand much English, and when they find us, and we can speak to them in their languages, they are comforted,” Leghrouz said. “They feel like there is someone there to help them.”
Since the start of the school year, the district’s Communications & Engagement team has embedded 128 Family Ambassadors across the district to better engage and communicate with parents – and more ambassadors will soon be added.
“We are here for families,” Leghrouz said. “We are their right hand in the schools. I want families to know they are welcome here, and if they have questions, they can always reach out.”
“As family ambassadors, we are like bridges between the families and schools,” Fareedzai added. “We are here for them, and we are here to help.”
Leghrouz and Fareedzai also help with school-based family engagement events. In addition, they regularly communicate with families through newsletters to inform them about upcoming events, and essential topics.
Earlier this year, Cranbrook implemented a new initiative to help families feel more welcome. The school hosted parent orientations for families who speak Pashto, Arabic, and Spanish. The goal was to give parents who speak these languages information about a typical school day schedule and procedures and give them ways to help students at home. The event also welcomed them to the Cranbrook family. Parents toured the building, met school staff, and received information and contacts who spoke each language. They hope to host more events in the future, including game nights or movie nights. Events like these help the school connect with families, Fareedzai said.
“When we had those family conferences, it made a big difference when they saw the classrooms and the building,” Fareedzai said. “They were happy. We want them to come to the school again and again.”
Through their work, they hope that language won’t be a barrier to feeling engaged in school.
“Language can be a barrier, and we are here to break that barrier,” Leghrouz said. “These kids are smart, and they can do it. They just need support. We can translate and help support in other ways too. We want to remove barriers and help students and families succeed as they continue on their paths.”