At Gateway, we believe the best way to set students up for success is a strong partnership between school and families, so that the skills and mindsets students learn during the day are reinforced at home, and vice-versa. It’s a simple fact, however, that parents, caregiver, teachers and even students are busier these days than ever before – so how do you keep everyone on the same page? At Gateway Middle, much of that responsibility falls to Diana Vaquerano, who serves as the school’s new Family & Student Liaison to build community and help families support their children during their formative middle school years.
“I think teachers are amazing, but I always knew that even though I wanted to work with young people, that wasn’t exactly the right path for me,” she said. “Being able to be in a space where I can build those relationships with students in a way that’s a little less formal, and with their families as well, is a real privilege to me.”
As Family & Student Liaison, Diana is called upon to be a bit of a Renaissance woman, wearing lots of different hats across a school quarter, week, or even day, depending on the needs of students and the school community. Like all faculty, she leads a small advisory cohort several times each week, checking in with students about their academic progress, social-emotional well-being, and building school spirit and community among students. She can often be found in the Student Support Office, working closely with the school counselor and dean of culture and community to help address students' social-emotional and behavioral needs. And if you happen to see her in the office paying close attention to her phone, she’s definitely not on TikTok: a big part of her job is texting, calling, and emailing parents about everything from attendance to where to find a Covid test to recruiting volunteers for after-school events.
“Every day is different, my job is to show up, be present for the students and staff, and see where the day takes me,” she said. “But there’s always something exciting happening, and there’s always something that makes me laugh.”
Prior to working at Gateway, Diana worked with youth for several years in community hubs and elementary and middle schools for a number of years – she even became a personal trainer, but felt compelled to return to education and youth development.
“Honestly, being a personal trainer is not as cool as working in schools,” she said. “It sounds a little corny, but it’s so true: I think we all want to feel like we’re making an impact in the world, and to me it makes the most sense when I’m supporting youth.”
Diana says that her big goal for GMS is to help recreate some of the community among parents and families that was lost in the pandemic and distance learning: revitalizing the faculty and family alliance, for one, and finding new opportunities to welcome adults back to being involved on campus.
“The important thing is finding ways to do it safely,” she said. “So we have to be creative and go slowly, but it will be wonderful when we have families starting to feel really connected to their school again.”