Note: Lizbeth Ramos is a junior human relations major at the Estherville site of BVU’s Graduate & Professional Studies program.
Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District parent contact coordinator Lizbeth Ramos is this year's winner of the Paul Mann Memorial Human Relations Award presented by the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA).
Ramos was honored Thursday, April 12, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines before a group of nearly 400 educators attending the annual ISEA Delegate Assembly.
As the parent contact coordinator, Ramos is responsible for interpreting and translating meetings, documents and all written materials for second-language students' families. Ramos works with teachers and administrators in the district to ensure second-language parents understand communication that is sent home or distributed at meetings and conferences.
“Lizbeth goes above and beyond to help all Hispanic citizens in our community,” said ELC Elementary Principal Kris Schlievert in her letter nominating Ramos. “She goes out of her way to advocate for any parent who needs school supplies, free lunch, winter wear, books, Christmas gifts, etc. All of these things we do provide at school through different programs, but parents have to be aware of these programs and need help understanding how to apply.”
“Lizbeth is seen as a trustworthy person by Estherville’s second language community and she works late into the night and on weekends to help anyone that has a question, concern or problem, Schlievert continued. “I am Lizbeth’s direct supervisor and I have spent many hours at home on the phone with Lizbeth regarding different situations that parents have called her for an answer. She makes sure she understands the answer and will also make sure I understand the situation before I can suggest a solution or provide an answer to any questions parents may have about our predominantly English-speaking system/community”.
“Lizbeth has given parents rides when they cannot drive and helped connect with community resources if they are in need of assistance like heat, food, clothing or medical attention,” the principal said. “She does a fantastic job helping parents of special needs students with all the red tape and educational jargon involved in the IEP’s and the referral/special education identification process.”
“It was an honor to have received the Paul Mann Memorial Human Relations Award for my work with ELC School District,” Ramos said upon receiving the award. “When I started working for ELC 10 years ago I could barely speak English. I would like to thank Kris Schlievert for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to work with the district.
“I continued studying English and now I’m in my third year of college. I really love my job and it makes me feel good to know that many parents know I’m here to help them, not only in the educational area, but I can also help families to find the resources they need,” says Ramos. “I love to see parents involved in the education of their children. I think this is super important in the education of our children and I really think that we’ve had a huge change in this since I had my job of family contact coordinator. There’s much more to do, and I will continue fighting for that.”
The Paul Mann Memorial Human Relations Award honors an individual or group for exemplary contributions toward the advancement of human and civil rights. It is named in memory of Paul Mann, a veteran Des Moines teacher and human rights activist who passed away in September of 2006.