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The leader. (Freeport, N.Y.) 1941-1987, December 27, 2018, Image 1

Image and text provided by Freeport Memorial Library

Persistent link: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/2018-12-27/ed-1/seq-1/

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Happy New Year to all our readers wmnKWierald.com Nadya Nataly/Herald FREEPORT TEEN JOINS U.S. MARINE CORPS Family discussed son's decision to join the military. PageS Jeff Wilson/Herald RED DEVILS 12-0 SEASON Freeport celebrates its Long Island title. PageS For BREAKING NEWS go to UHeralfLcona Freeport TmHer DECEMBER 27,2018 - JANUARY 2,2019 Freeport's education advocate By NADYA NATALY nnataly@liherad.com Yes, Maria Jordan-Awalom is mom to Julian, 13, and Leah, 11, but she is also a sec- ond mother, in a sense, to hundreds of Free- port School District students. Since she started volunteering at New Visions School in 2013, Jordan-Awalom has dedicated the last five years toward advocat- ing for students and parents at the school. Because of her commitment to Freeport schools—and her many selfless, often unno- ticed acts of kindness — Jordan-Awalom is the Freeport Herald-Leader Person of the Year for 2018. On any given day, she might be running to soccer practice or Science Olympiad with her children, but she also might be speaking at a Board of Education meeting or volun- teering at a school event. Before Jordan-Awalom became a home- maker, she worked as a loan underwriter in the banking industry She grew up in Jack- son Heights, Queens, and moved to Freeport during her junior year of high school. She graduated from Freeport High School in 1992 and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology from Queens College. Jordan-Awalom said she had not origi- nally intended to stay home with her chil- dren and planned to return to her career. When Julian was at Columbus School, she started volunteering for a variety of events and chaperoning field trips there. The more she got involved, the more she noticed how relatively few parents volunteered in the schools. In particular, the El Salva- doran native realized that a ******** large number of Latino par- ents were not involved, and she took their absence as a call to action. \A lot of Span- ish-speaking parents shared they felt like they couldn't be involved,\ Jordan-Awalom said. She grew up in a home in which English was the sec- ond language, and her par- ents, she said, often felt dis- connected from the school system because of the lan- guage barrier. \I've always been the kind of person who advocates for the Hispanic community because my parents are from El Salvador and they don't speak English,\ Jor- dan-Awalom explained. \So I was always helping my family with the language or with anything.\ Courtesy Maria Jordan-AwaSom Maria Jordan-Awalom t's not about the trophies. This is all volunteer work and what she's doing is because she really cares. HIRUYAWALOM Maria's husband Realizing that many Spanish-speaking parents felt disassociated from the school system, she began to teach her fellow par- ents how to navigate the district and find ways that they too could get involved, even _ though they had not mas- ******** tered the English language. \Parental involvement makes such a huge differ- ence,\ Jordan-Awalom emphasized. Over the years, Jordan- Awalom has become the Latino community's point person. Many parents approach her with questions and concerns, and seek advice on how they should communicate with their chil- dren's teachers. She is now president of the Freeport Public Schools Parent Teach- er Association Council and is actively involved with the Freeport Education Foundation Committee. \There are plenty of parents who stay home,\ Jordan-Awalom shared. \And I wasn't the only stay-at-home mom, but the priorities weren't the same\ '~ -• '\> ttif'*,'.. Through her work with the PTA, Jordan- Awalom has increased parental involvement in the district, according to Dr. Alice Kane, Freeport's assistant superintendent for edu- cational and administrative services. Jordan-Awalom started organizing events that other parents could take part in, including fundraisers, movie nights, meet- and-greets and community projects. Then she reached out to them to ensure that she knew about them. \I started pushing more,\ she said. \I'd tell them, 'Let's do this. Let's have events.' Maybe parents will come out. Let's just do something different.\ She is now treasurer and vice president of the Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School PTA Council. In 2017-18, she was the J.WT Dodd Middle School PTA second vice president. In addition to her involvement with the PTA, Jordan-Awalom sits on a See PERSON, page 4 AM

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