Community Resource Center opens at East Hartford Middle School
By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Wed., Apr. 13, 2011
The Community Resource Center in East Hartford Middle School started with an idea from parents a few years ago. “A group of parents raised the idea of a resource center where Spanish speaking parents could get help,'' said Lisa McMahon, coordinator of the school-based resource center.
Since then, the mission of the center has expanded to provide help and resources to East Hartford's diverse population. To use the center's services, a person need only present a valid ID that shows they live in East Hartford.
“We have interpreters for sign language and for Twi, which is a Ghanian language that is prevalent here in East Hartford. We are also hoping to get Vietnamese and Laotian translators as well,'' McMahon said.
Now, teachers who need an interpreter to translate during a parent-teacher conference can call the center for help. The center's services are not limited to providing interpreters, however. Computers equipped with the Rosetta Stone language program will be available to those using the center to learn a new language and improve their skills in that language. The staff of the center can also help people learn how to look for jobs online, and attain other types of computer skills.
McMahon said being at the middle school makes the resource center a place that is accessible for many. “Everyone knows where the middle school is, and we are right on a bus-line, which is convenient,'' McMahon added. The center is located at 777 Burnside Ave., and hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The resource center project is supported by Childplan Inc., the East Hartford Board of Education, and a grant from Pratt and Whitney. Linda Kehoe, executive director of Childplan Inc. credited school superintendent Mark Zito for helping to bring the idea of the center to fruition. “He really liked the idea and spearheaded the effort to get this program up and running.'' Childplan Inc. is a non-profit advocacy group that include 40 member organizations that focus on children from birth to age 21.
Nathan Quesnel, principal of East Hartford Middle School, said he was pleased that the school was picked as the site for the resource center. “We're excited to have them here – they have had an immediate impact on our school,'' Quesnel said. “Teachers are already calling them for help during conferences with parents. I feel this is what community partnership is all about.''