Waynesboro Public Schools is breaking through barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the everyday matters of student life through a comprehensive language access program powered by Volatia Language Network Inc.
Annually WPS serves 250 limited English-proficient students and their families. Before implementing a responsive language access program, WPS had one full-time language access coordinator tasked with contacting LEP parents, serving as an interpreter, translator, and event coordinator, on-site and over-the-phone. They weren’t as inclusive because they didn’t have the personnel in place to support the coordinator’s efforts.
Employing a network of on-demand interpreters and translators helped WPS identify all the aspects of equity and inclusion that need to be addressed so that their diversity initiative reaches LEP students and families through hands-on, equity and inclusion-building practices, with an expanded budget.
Through their language access program, they are removing language barriers and increasing connections and touchpoints for all immigrants in the surrounding Waynesboro community. As an information channel, WPS encourages interaction with a broad range of diverse cultures and life experiences that are present in Waynesboro.
“Our job as a school division is to serve all our students, not just the students who speak English,” said Dr. Ryan Barber, WPS assistant superintendent. “Volatia has allowed us to connect in a meaningful, efficient, user-friendly way with our LEP families, emphasizing that accuracy matters. And so, when we are able to make those connections, we build relationships that turn into partnerships that create outcomes for kids that we want.”
Using interpreters and translators, WPS now examines why certain groups of students get suspended from school more often.
“We’re having those hard discussions because what we need to do is create outcomes that account for the differences in perspective that people have,” Barber said. “Just because my perspective is what it is, due to the experiences I’ve had, doesn’t mean that the perspectives of our LEP students and families are not acceptable because they are different, so I can listen and learn.”