The ENL Family Literacy Night, a collaborative effort between Port Washington's ENL Department Pre-K-12 and St. John's University Project Leader Program, showcased a collective commitment to enhancing the educational journey of English Language Learners (ELL) and their families. With the backing of St. John’s, the event was brought to life through the coordination efforts of key figures, including Dr. John Spiridakis, Professor of TESOL & Bilingual Education and Chairperson for Education Specialties, Dr. Jordan González, Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education and TESOL, Priscilla Zárate, Port Washington Director of ENL Pre-K-12, Juanita Diaz, Director of Elementary Curriculum, and Dr. Victoria Borsella, Administrator for Literacy.
The initiative received notable support through a $10,000 grant under St. John’s University Project Leader, providing multicultural books to foster literacy skills in both home languages and English for ELL families. Educational workshops and resources were offered by a team of dedicated professors, student volunteers from St. John’s, and the Port Washington World Languages Department, aimed at equipping ELL parents with vital educational strategies.
The event was enriched by community-based organizations who offered informational resources, including CARECEN, the Port Washington Resource Center, Latina Moms Connect, the Port Washington Public Library, the Long Island Japanese Culture Center, Super Soccer Stars, and the Hispanic Counseling Center.
The presence and support of Superintendent Dr. Michael Hynes, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Dr. Sean C. Feeney, along with school board members, emphasized the community's dedication to creating inclusive and superior educational environments.
“The ENL Family Literacy Night stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, education, and community engagement. It not only celebrated the diverse cultures and languages of ELL families but also provided them with invaluable resources to continue their educational journeys,” stated Priscilla Zárate.
Dr. Feeney expressed gratitude to those who helped bring the evening to fruition: “Our district is so thankful for the efforts of Ms. Zárate, Dr. Borsella and Ms. Diaz in collaborating with our Port Washington teachers and St. John’s University to provide an evening of learning, language and literacy to our community.”
Dr. Jordan González, highlighted the broader impact of the Multilingual Family Literacy collaboration with Port Washington, stating, "We are not just promoting literacy; we are fostering a sense of community empowerment and connectivity. By incorporating arts, facilitating parent workshops, offering culturally and linguistically responsive book fairs, and engaging diverse community-based organizations, we are creating a holistic and enriching experience for our multilingual families. Through these initiatives, we empower parents to actively engage in their children's education and provide students with materials that reflect their linguistic repertoires and cultural backgrounds, ultimately ensuring their academic success."
Juanita Diaz, Priscilla Zárate, and Dr. Victoria Borsella
Families were able to receive multicultural and bilingual books courtesy of St. John's University Project Leader
St. John's University and Paul D. Schreiber HS student volunteers
Parents in the Paul D. Schreiber HS library.
Julie Epstein, Priscilla Zárate, Dr. Michael Hynes, Nanette Melkonian and Deborah Brooks
Students playing games
Parents attending different workshops
Parent Resource Center
Latina Moms Connect
Super Soccer Stars
Hispanic Counseling Center
Port Washington Public Library