Since the beginning, Genius Plaza has been focused on our users and unlocking the potential in their children. We have talked to thousands of teachers, parents, and students about their hopes and fears. Not being able to do enough to prepare their children is one of the top concerns.

While the education achievement gap has narrowed, more work needs to be done for immigrant populations in our schools. For example, Hispanic students are less likely than Asians, whites, non-Hispanics, or blacks to attend four-year colleges or go to school full-time.

In talking with our parents and in our own lives, we kept hearing stories about sacrificing so much to bring families to the United States, and seeing children struggle in school. They describe the pain of seeing their children fall behind in school, and the embarrassment of not being able to help them, as they don’t speak the language either.

Personally, growing up in the Bronx, New York, I saw classmates full of energy draw within themselves the minute the class bell rang, as they grew to fear the indecipherable ink on the page. I would translate for families just arriving to the United States struggling to ask teachers how to help their kids and lost as to worksheets.

NEA’s research paper “English Language Learners Face Unique Challenges” reports on ELL students: “Two-thirds come from low-income families and three out of four ELLs are Spanish-speaking. But what is most significant—and troubling—is that these students’ academic performance is well below that of their peers and that ELLs have excessively high dropout rates.

NEA believes that closing the achievement gap for ELLs must be a priority.” The stories of these families are familiar to us at Genius Plaza, as we see these students every day. So, we took on the task of creating a narrative that captures the turmoil of these families and shows how we can help.

We set out to create a video and radio piece to which families can relate. We engaged some familiar faces – people using our site – to help put it together. Take a look at some of the behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot:

Check out the final spot here, and if you know a family that is facing these challenges, invite them to Genius Plaza. The program is free for families!

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