School activist and community gatherer

Posted on January 31, 2019

Angels Among Us

We’ve been noticing a trend. There are angels among us. The ones who quietly go about their days: answering phones, returning emails, bandaging knees, making dinners and shoveling the walk. Then add to that arranging gatherings, supporting friends and family and creating programs that benefit the community at large.

Beatriz Bustamante is one of those angels. She’s a health assistant at Battle Mountain High School but goes way beyond fulfilling her day-to-day duties. She naturally gravitated to helping her community and it’s blown up into a full-fledged program. She always been a natural leader and helper; answering questions and filling gaps within in the Spanish-speaking population.

“This valley holds a special place in my heart. When we moved back to the mountains three years ago, I noticed that Spanish-speaking parents were missing information about their kids at school,” Beatriz shares. “I always like to help any way possible. Being bilingual, I knew that many parents were missing information about their child’s education. People who knew me were asking me questions pertaining to the school. I decide to take a lead on this asking those questions for them at BMHS.”

That’s another trait these angels share: Taking the lead and stepping up even if no one has asked them to do so.

One year ago, Beatriz and four others started Community Engagement – Enlace Comunitario. The group, which includes personnel from BMHS, meets once a month to discuss topics that affect students, parents and the school. Sometimes there’s dinner (“Cazuelada,” bring a dish to share), sometimes Beatriz creates a PowerPoint and she does simultaneous Spanish translation so information is clear.

“Spanish-speaking parents are grateful that we are doing this for them and that it is actually coming from BMHS school personnel. Our presentations can be 15 minutes or one hour, depending on the topic info,” Beatriz says.

Topics covered include Power School and Naviance; how to enroll in athletics; graduation requirements and credits needed; 504s and IEPs; Sharpie tattoos, vape pens and drugs, Link Crew, counseling office, college, access to AVID, police, School Café,  PTA and Accountability. (Beatriz is also a member of those last two.) Basically the laundry list of items parents need to know about to help their student thrive.

“I think so far we have given a lot of info to them and actually how to help their students with a piece of advice for a school situation. At these meetings they also share their concerns and issues with their students,” Beatriz shares.

Enlace Comunitario goes beyond school doors, with presenters from Mind Springs, ERYC, Upward Bound and Family Mountain Health just to name a few. Ultimately these monthly meetings are having a solid impact with real results. Beatriz says that the Spanish-speaking community knows their voice matters and that there are resources available, they are feeling more involved and welcomed, so the “community is getting stronger and more knowledgeable, by consequence our kids will become more successful on their education.”
“It’s always difficult to talk about me, but I want other Spanish-speaking parents from elementary and middle schools to reach out to us! We want to extend the invitation to join us and learn more about ECSD (Eagle County School District) and find out more about all of the resources available for them as well.  Our next reunion is with Eat Chat Parent 02/7/19 at 6:00 pm interpretations available BMHS Auditorium “Technology Misuse” and if they want to  join our Facebook group BMHS Padres de Familia they are more than welcome.” 

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Eagle River Youth Coalition - Making Youth a Community Priority
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