Hilda Lail, Spanish family advocateHilda Lail has worked for Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) for more than 10 years, serving in a range of roles that support students who are multilingual and their families. Throughout her years of service, Lail has collaborated with families to reduce barriers for student academic success and increase family involvement in student learning.

“Being that I am a non-native English speaker, I sympathize with parents who have a hard time understanding terminology when navigating the school system,” Lail said. “I talk to all families the way I wish someone had spoken to me as I became familiar with the language and country. In all that I do, my goal is for families to feel represented and that they are able to walk into schools with greater security and knowledge of the school system.”

As part of her work, Lail coordinates The Plaza, a program that offers free English language classes for families. Approximately 180 people participate in the program, coming from countries including Mexico, Ukraine, Cambodia, Thailand, Russia, and Micronesia.

“It’s beautiful to see how community is developed and sustained through these experiences,” said Jeff Snell, Superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, speaking about Lail’s work with The Plaza. “The impact is felt through student enrichment and increased family confidence in our district as a trusted partner in the development of their children.”

Lail also serves as writer, editor, interviewer, translator, and presenter for VPS en Español, a monthly televised program. Also available on the school district’s social media platforms, the program provides information about the district to families that speak Spanish.

“Ms. Lail is passionate and highly skilled,” said Janell Ephraim, Executive Director of Schools, Learning, and Equity for Vancouver Public Schools. “She believes that equity is at the core of effective schools. She exhibits this belief by using her skills and talents to support school communities by providing a bridge to access.”