Principal reaches out to Assyrian community

9/24/2008 7:46:49 AM

To narrow the gap between the Assyrian population and teachers and administrators at Earl Elementary, principal Tami Truax made the trip to a castle-like building in Ceres on Thursday evening. There, she found a television studio.

Later that evening, in front of a live worldwide audience, she talked about her school and how it operates, especially with children whose parents' native language is not English. Assyrian Vision, the Central Valley's Assyrian television station, is believed to be the only Assyrian TV station in the world, broadcasting everywhere except for Australia and New Zealand,

"For many students, if their parents don't speak the language, there's a reluctance of the parents to come in to talk to the teachers and find out any issues that concern their children, and they don't get that follow-up at home," Truax said on air. "So what we try to do is make our parents feel comfortable coming to campus."

Truax wasn't alone talking with host John Kanno. First-grade teacher and reading specialist Kristi Mills was also at the TV station to discuss all the different services the elementary has to help make parents of English-second children understand that the teachers want to build a solid relationship.

"Primarily, we want parents to know it's not as hard as they might think," Truax said.

Truax and Mills then went on to talk about their open-door policy, and asked parents to volunteer at the various elementary schools. Even Kanno - a man known around the world - said he would come by and help out if he's not out of town or in another country.

"We actually enjoy having parents on campus," Truax said.

Truax came to do the interview after the grandmother of two students at Earl suggested she make an appearance and talk about the importance of having a teacher-parent rapport with the Assyrian population. During the show, Truax, Mills and Kanno answered two calls from viewers, including the aforementioned grandmother and one from Virginia. This particular show lasted for about 45 minutes, with the guests and host discussing other topics such as the process of enrolling at the school to handling bullies, a subject in which Truax said, "We inform the children what a bully looks like, how to keep away from a bully, and how to handle a bully by simply reporting one to a school official."

Toward the end of the show, Truax once again offered an invitation to parents to come to the school to learn about the campus and teachings. And even said she would let the parents sit in the principal's office.

"That's not a bad thing either," said Kanno, the host.