As the Family Engagement Manager, I wear a lot of hats: greeting our visitors, helping families apply to Rainier Prep, scheduling family-advisor-student conferences, and visiting our local White Center, Burien, SeaTac and Tukwila communities to become more familiar with any services our families might need. I also serve on our attendance team to monitor absences (we have a 95% attendance rate!).
I came to the United States as an immigrant 10 years ago, so I was new to this education system. I remembered my parents not feeling supported as they tried to engage my schools, especially because of their language barrier. Because of those experiences, I always wanted to become a positive part of the education system and contribute somehow, but I didn’t know if I’d enter as a social worker to provide resources or in some other way. I’m still figuring out how I’d like to make my own impact, but working with our Rainier Prep families is a great place to begin my journey.
I really enjoy informing parents about their students’ whole experience at Rainier Prep. It’s so important that parents know where their kids are in their classes, who their friends are, and how they are doing overall. I can remove the language barrier for our Somali families (and I’m picking up Spanish and Vietnamese as I go along, too!), so they feel included and have their own say in terms of how their kids can be supported better. I attend family-advisor-student conferences with them to ensure that they feel even more connected. Our families really do feel welcome here, and our teachers listen to their concerns in order to find solutions together.
There are some challenges I can’t help with, as much as I’d like to be able to. Some parents have issues with transportation, for example, driving all the way from Federal Way and other King County areas to ensure their kids have the best education. Our parents work really hard, some working nights and then waking up just to get their students here on time. Finally, some of our families have real need for basic necessities. It is those families in particular that I spend a lot of time with, trying to connect them with resources so our students can be supported mentally, spiritually, and physically in addition to academically.
I’m part of our community, and so I’m aware of many of the struggles our families experience. I’m proud of my work that helps our families navigate their students’ education, and I want to get the word out even more about Rainier Prep. Right now, we have a waiting list of almost 200 families, and many of them learn about Rainier Prep by word of mouth. I will be working to connect with other communities, schools, and neighborhoods in our Highline area to expand knowledge of the quality education that we can offer, and the kinds of education that our families should expect from any school.
Kowsar Hassan joined Rainier Prep as our Family Engagement Manager earlier this year.