SMUSD Names Liaison to New Families

For the last year and a half, Lu Jiang has been the face of the San Marino Unified School District for families new to the community. She sits at the receptionist’s desk just inside the door of the district offices on West Drive, and has also been responsible for registering new students.
Often, Jiang said, newly arrived immigrants from China “feel kind of lost” when they come through the door. “At the time of registration, I see their frustration,” she continued. “Some families bring their own interpreters with them because they don’t know we have a person who can speak Chinese. When they see me, of course then it’s a big relief.”
Jiang, a native Mandarin speaker who spent her first 19 years in China, will now be an even more valuable resource for San Marino’s new families. The district just promoted her to the title of community liaison officer, which will task her with providing orientation, guidance and support for families new to the SMUSD.
All concerned stress that she will be a link not just to the Chinese community but to all new school families, whether they come from Argentina, Azerbaijan or Azusa. Jiang’s background is in the hotel and tourism industry, so she is well trained in being accommodating, and her English is more precise than many native-born speakers.
Still, there is no mistaking the predominant demographic of San Marino’s public schools.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the district to increase communication, including in the Asian community,” said School Board member C. Joseph Chang, who joined with Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss in conceiving of the new position.
Jiang is also keenly familiar with the culture that many of the immigrants are leaving to come here. “For parents, we want to help them understand that we really promote parental involvement,” she said. “That’s very important, because in China, parents just put kids in school. They don’t worry about it. ‘Teachers will take care of it.’ But here, we need parents to either volunteer or give us some feedback. We want to know what difficulties they’re facing so we can help out with the right solutions.”
On Monday — her first day on the new job — Jiang said she was looking forward to meeting with school principals, representatives of the San Marino Schools Foundation and PTA members to become more familiar with “what we’re offering and what is available,” so that she can be well equipped when the newcomers start raising their questions.

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