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Elementary School Outreach Coordinator: Karla Olson joins Fairmont schools

Karla Olson is Fairmont Elementary Schools’ new Community Outreach Coordinator. She will be working with students and families who are new to the country.

Superintendent Joe Brown said there is a growing Latino population and parent-teacher conferences are also coming up and they needed more help with translating.

“We are getting more diverse here and it’s important that we’re able to communicate with our parents,” Brown said.

Olson joins Natanael Moreno, who joined the district as a Community Outreach Coordinator about a year ago.

“He (Natanael) was covering both high school and elementary but there are so many students and so many things going on. So he will be at the high school most of the time and I will be mostly at the Elementary School,” Olson explained.

Olson’s position is full-time and year-round. There are currently 98 English Language Learner students at the elementary school and 32 at the high school and those numbers continue to grow.

Olson said that while most of the families speak Spanish, many of them are coming from Central America so the dialect can be different. There are also languages spoken besides Spanish.

Previously, Olson was a social worker at Human Services of Faribault and Martin County. There she also helped translate and communicate with individuals who spoke little to no English.

When asked if she believes there is a need for services like this in the community, Olson said, “Definitely. With human services, I was one of few workers speaking Spanish so requests from different departments reached out needing help translating. The Hispanic community is growing and we see a need for communicating. We want everyone to be aware of programs or services they can use,” Olson said.

Olson was born and raised in Mexico and attended school there. Since she’s moved to the U.S, 12 years ago, she’s pretty much been in Minnesota.

“I was fortunate that I was already fluent in English when I moved here. But I’m aware for a lot of people it’s really hard if they don’t know the language or know very little. We’re doing a much better job now than 10 years ago,” Olson said.

Olson said in her new position she’s mostly looking forward to getting to know the families she’ll be working with. She’s just in her second week of the job. She said it’s been hard to communicate the constant changes that are happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a challenge to keep all of the families up to date. We are working hard to communicate through calls, emails, and other materials. We need to provide an option in Spanish too so they’re not left out of important notices,” Olson explained.

Olson said she’s excited about her new position at the elementary school. She and her husband have two daughters in attendance at the school.

“We love Fairmont and the community. I think we have a really good school so I’m happy to be part of it now,” Olson said.

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