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Volunteers at Communities In Schools of New Mexico

While Santa Fe Public Schools are on spring break and everyone is preparing to return to full time in-person classes, Communities In Schools is giving a shout out to our volunteers! Our volunteer program will continue to function on a virtual platform. This spring, consider YOUR gift of time to help students progress with their studies!

While online tutoring has proven challenging during the COVID pandemic, Communities In Schools has many success stories and volunteers who are making a difference in our students’ lives. Two such volunteers are Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo and Clarissa Sotelo (no relation). While Pierrette and Clarissa bring different strengths and talents to their tutoring sessions, perhaps their most prized attribute is that they are both bilingual.

There is a high demand for bilingual tutors across the ten schools Communities In Schools serves and never enough tutors to fulfill that need. In the words of Capital High School Site Coordinator, Adrian Sotelo: “For years it seems, Communities In Schools and the District have struggled to find bilingual tutors that can teach 100% in Spanish. And, given the very basic English abilities of some of our students, being fluent in both languages is an absolute must.”

Pierrette joined the tutor team at Capital High in the 2019-2020 school year. She has been a sociology professor at University of Southern California for the past 30 years. The online tutoring platform has enabled Pierrette to continue to teach her college students, whilst also being able to tutor Capitol’s new immigrant students. It is these monolingual, Spanish speaking students that are Pierrette’s focus and passion.

Pierrette has high praise for the Capital High Communities In Schools team. She works closely with Site Coordinators, Sinte Torrez and Adrian Sotelo. “Adrian and Sinte model enthusiasm and positivity with their students. They are an inspiration.” Pierrette has up to 5 students in each tutoring session. She practices English speaking skills with the ELL students and also provides writing and comprehension support to other students. She “loves seeing the students’ motivation. They are my role models.”

Clarissa Sotelo is a 2010 Capital High graduate and was eager to give back to her school community. One of the reasons why Clarissa’s Algebra 1 tutoring sessions have been so productive is because she knows first-hand how the Capital teachers expect the notes and work to be done. Communities In Schools Field Director, Ivan Cornejo, called Clarissa a "unicorn." Site Coordinator, Adrian Sotelo, realized that unique moniker was because “there has been a struggle to find a math tutor, let alone a bilingual one.”

Recently, Clarissa remarked that had Communities In Schools existed at Capital when she was a student, she “could have really used the services they offer.” Similar to Pierrette, Clarissa gains a great deal from her interaction with the students. “I love how they talk to me more and more each time.”

In the words of Site Coordinator, Adrian Sotelo, “Both Pierrette and Clarissa are worthy of the spotlight. They have done an incredible job working with the ELL students. These students struggle with the most basic aspects of their education; not because they are not smart enough to do the work, but because the language barrier prevents any progress. Pierrette and Clarissa understand this and engage with the students in ways that help them learn the material and get their work done. They also know how to work the room when there are 2+ students in the sessions. They circulate the room by asking questions, reengaging the attention of the students, and giving praise when it's due.”

We at Communities In Schools are so grateful for Pierrette and Clarissa’s continued dedication to the ELL students at Capital High. If you, or someone you know, is a Spanish speaker and would like to become a tutor, please contact: Communities In Schools Volunteer Coordinator, Kate Mitchell at 505-954-1880.

Help Sustain the ongoing work of Communities In Schools - become a monthly donor!

Every day, CIS Site Coordinators foster connections with students and help to meet the ongoing needs of kids - they are the adults students can count on - providing essential resources, connecting them to tutors, developing support groups, and more.

Site Coordinators do WHATEVER IT TAKES to support student success!

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