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Stanford GSE program provides school interpreting in rural district
María Guzmán nodded that she understood when her son's social studies teacher asked about GPA and test scores during the spring parent-teacher conference at Pescadero Middle School. But her face wasn't convincing: a nervous smile, eyes glancing down and away, cheeks slightly flushed.
Picking up the cues, Efraín Brito, a PhD student at Stanford Graduate School of Education who was seated just to Guzmán's right, asked her again, this time in her native Spanish, adding in the same breath a reassuring explanation about where her son stood compared to other students in the district.
"Ah," Guzmán smiled, looking relieved now that she knew her son was actually a high performer in reading. "I understood about 70 percent but I didn't really follow how he compared. Now, it's clear," she told Brito in Spanish.
Brito, a school/community interpreter, was at the table thanks to the Stanford-Pescadero School Community Interpretation Project, a research and practice initiative started by GSE Professor Guadalupe Valdés in response to a request from Suzanne Abel, then Academic Director of the nonprofit Puente de la Costa Sur, and school Principal Pat Talbot of the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District.
The project recruits 12-15 Stanford students to interpret twice a year at parent-teacher conferences at the middle and high schools in Pescadero, a coastal town 30 miles from the university where the majority of public school students are children of very low-income farm and nursery workers and other low paying service jobs.