Xiomara Hernandez-Marcelo, a Family Engagement and School of Choice Specialist with Esperanza, loves spending her work day helping support Spanish-speaking Cleveland families in whatever ways they need, especially when it relates to access to education.
As a Cleveland State University graduate student and former Cleveland Transformation Alliance intern, Hernandez-Marcelo has always enjoyed being in the community and connecting with families. In her current role, she helps by connecting them with Esperanza programs and services or those of other Spanish-speaking partners in the Greater Cleveland community. “I love that when our clients come to us (almost always by word of mouth) it doesn’t just feel like we’re providing a service. We’re like a family; we’re all connected. I want our families to know that they have education options.” Eager to listen, she knows that parents know what their children need. It’s her job to connect the dots and help them advocate for their children and themselves.
As a School of Choice specialist, she is also a trained School Quality Ambassador working with Cleveland Transformation Alliance staff to assist with making their services available to Hispanic families. This includes reaching out to families who speak Spanish as a primary language and letting them know about school choice resources in Cleveland, whether they are looking for additional services within their current school or making a school transition. She makes sure they are aware of how to register for school and how to do their research to find a school that meets their students’ needs.
Esperanza has always prided itself in its open-door policy, trying to be available to families based on an extended schedule that works around parent employment schedules. Since the pandemic, however, they’ve become mostly remote and contact has included a lot of text and tech support with limited in-office capacity for an onsite learning pod to help Spanish-speaking middle school students with remote learning.
Hernandez-Marcelo recalls a recent situation in which she helped an out of state mother locate the “right fit” schools for her two high school students, “I like to ask parents and listen to them because they know what their kids need or have interest in — and you can tell they may have not been asked those questions before.” Getting to know families is the essence of school choice, from her perspective, and she often finds that clients have more school options than they realized.
To learn more about Esperanza’s commitment to building the confidence and skills of Spanish-speaking youth and adults in Northeast Ohio through free, personalized mentoring and family support programs, visit them online at EsperanzaInc.org