A Conversation with Suzana Blake | Atlantis Parent Partner
Parent Partners provide home visits to Atlantis families participating in the parent partner program. They are teachers and/or educators, and they work with the parent and child on areas such as homework, developing organizational skills, understanding school behavioral expectations and/or any other needs of areas of concern. Two homes visits are conducted each week. Each visit lasts 1 ½ hours. Parent Partner Suzana Blake is currently working with three families, and we spoke to her about her job.
Q: What is a typical home visit like?
I work with three Brazilian families. I prepare a lesson plan for each visit, and I help the Atlantis student with homework. My focus is on the student, but obviously if a sibling has a question I welcome the opportunity to help him or her as well. After the homework is done, I always engage the whole family in a fun activity. We often play a game or read a book. We even colored eggs one time – everyone had a lot of fun with that activity.
Q: What other support do you offer your families?
I am a bilingual Parent Partner. I communicate in English with the Atlantis student during homework and game-time, but I often speak Portuguese with the parents. The families are prepared for my visit with a list of questions and with letters they have received from the school. I read and translate the letters, and I help them understand what is going on at school. Sometimes the parent will ask for help with something unrelated to school, and my supervisor encourages me to help if I can do so.
Q: What do you like most about getting to work with families?
I like the satisfaction of seeing the kids improving at school. Once in a while we hear from the parents, or from the child, or from my coordinator that the child is developing well at school. It also feels good to see parents become more optimistic about their child’s academic development. One mother did not understand the grading system because it is very different in Brazil. I explained how it works and reassured her that her child was doing quite well in school. My presence in the household eased the mother’s anxiety about her child’s true development. It’s little details that we take for granted here, but it means a lot to somebody who has a completely different cultural perspective on how the grade should be.
Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Teaching in a classroom is very different from teaching one-on-one. I absolutely adore teaching one-on-one because it’s very personal. The three children I work with really enjoy my company and I feel so happy to go to a house knowing the family is anxiously awaiting my arrival. It’s very fulfilling. Sometimes I get home at 8 o’clock at night. I’m tired. My kids will ask me how the visit went, and I tell them, ‘Honey, it was great. I feel happy to get paid to visit people who actually have pleasure in meeting me and reading the books I brought them, and having fun playing the games.’ Wow, what a fun job!