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Reaching Out to MUSD's Outreach Assistants

L-R: Jacalyn Davis and Outreach Assistants Deanne Reynolds, Jadon Thibodeaux, and Marisela Martinez. Not pictured: Mona Perez


Manteca Unified is excited to introduce one of the newest roles in schools! While the pandemic emphasized a unique area of family and student need, the District has spent years planning  to implement a role which focuses on parent engagement and closing the gap between families and essential resources – Outreach Assistants! 

4 hands reaching out to eachotherOutreach  Assistants work to bridge communication between school and home by helping parents and students get the information, support, and help they need to ensure academic and social success in school. OA’s have a passion for communicating, building relationships, and empowering parents/support providers by providing information and encouraging involvement. 

The position was first launched last year at the district-level with Community Outreach Assistant Caitlin Pearsall, who helps to further community partnerships within the San Joaquin County community and spearhead parent engagement initiatives. The position was later extended to select sites to increase family engagement within identified, high-needs school communities. With the leadership of their principals and District Coordinator of Equity & Access Jacalyn Davis, MUSD’s dedicated Outreach Assistants work tirelessly to ensure every student has the chance to succeed. Each team member focuses on needs particular to their unique community.

Jadon - Joseph Widmer

Jadon Thibodeaux“What’s important to me is families trusting me as an Outreach Assistant and knowing I want the best for them and their child. Making connections to build successful relationships means everything to me!”

Jadon, Outreach Assistant at Joseph Widmer Elementary, has been busy coordinating monthly food drives and a “Helping Hands” pantry, along with a mentoring program for students. She helps support student success by encouraging Joseph Widmer parents to attend monthly “Meet & Greets” focused on highlighting resource agencies in San Joaquin County, and by working closely with teachers and staff to implement strategies which increase rapport with both students and families. 

For Jadon, it is imperative to connect families with identified social-emotional, academic, and economic needs to essential referrals and resources.

Deanne - August Knodt

Deanne Reynolds“I can support student success by strengthening the home-school connection, and by understanding the challenges our families are experiencing. With this information, I can provide students and families with resources, services, and information. I believe understanding the ‘why’ is instrumental in being effective when creating solutions for the school community I serve.”

August Knodt’s Outreach Assistant, Deanne, focuses on improving attendance and increasing parent engagement. To help achieve these goals, Deanne, in collaboration with her principal, has developed both parent and student surveys which provide valuable information about barriers that exist in these areas for families in her school community. She is also working to create an “Attendance Matters” reward ticket that students can earn, further incentivizing coming to school! 

Deanne works diligently to bring community resources to her campus, addressing family need and simultaneously creating a “hangout” space for students on campus. 

Marisela - Sequoia

Marisela Martinez“I communicate directly with parents to see what resources they need for their students to be successful.  If there is a need for food, shelter, or mental health assistance within a family, I can connect them with the resources they need so that their student can come to school ready to learn!”

At Sequoia, Marisela has been busy advertising parent classes in partnership with local nonprofit Parents by Choice and planning monthly food drives. In January alone, she coordinated the donation of over 300 bags of food!

It’s been Marisela’s mission from the start to ensure parents know what resources Sequoia offers such as tutoring and bilingual support.  She makes videos for her principal to post on Sequoia’s Facebook page, including videos about the school’s book fair, their bilingual aides, Parents by Choice, and the Manteca Public Library – all of which she recorded in both English and Spanish. She said it’s been rewarding to hear parents say, “Oh, I didn’t know about this, or that.” 

Mona - Great Valley

Mona Perez“My goal is to maximize parent engagement, which is critical to student success. For parents to maximize their role in their child’s education, they need to first be supported and made aware of resources available to help their child succeed. I’m excited for more schools to gain an Outreach Assistant!”

During her time at Great Valley, Mona has been hard at work planning parent events and classes, including free monthly COVID-19 vaccination clinics, regular food drives benefiting families in the Weston Ranch community (distributing 300 boxes of food each month!), Parent Cafés with unique topics and relevant guest speakers, as well as English Learner and computer courses held on site.

In February, Great Valley will also be offering PIQE (Parent Institute for Quality Education) classes in the evenings in both English and Spanish. These parent classes, which will run for 8 weeks, will include social-emotional and digital literacy components. Through the program, parents will have a better understanding of how to navigate the school system, access relevant information for student success, and college admission requirements.