Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Think Globally, Shop Locally

One of the duties of the ESOL department chair is to assist the parent liaison with our parent outreach.  We co-hosted our first parent meeting this week (topic: how to access the online grading portal) and agreed that rather than hold it during the evening, we would see what kind of turnout we could get for a morning event.  The parent event was advertised as a coffee hour.

All was well until the parent liaison asked me where I planned to get the coffee and refreshments for the event.  In a panic, I got a quote from Dunkin Donuts and immediately realized that I was looking at a $35-50 tab that I may or may not get reimbursed for. Thinking back to the wonderful bakery that was smack dab in the middle of the Guatemalan town I visited over the summer, it dawned on me that the goods at the local Mexican establishment would not only taste much better than Dunkin Donuts (I know that I'm betraying my New England roots here), it would also most likely be much cheaper. Armed with my mission, I signed out of the building and drove around the neighborhood to price compare and sample.

The local bakery turned out to be a better option as despite a language barrier, I got a quote for $20 and a connection with the manager who happens to have a child that attends the school.  Since I never leave the building during the day, I decided to venture out to the edge of the school's boundary and try the taqueria that I've heard about for the past five years.  It turned out to be worth the wait and again, I introduced myself to the employees and made connections.  When I reported the events of my day to my students, they were excited that I visited their neighborhood and tried their favorite places. The promise of goods from the local bakery also encouraged some of the more reluctant students to remind their parents of the meeting, which got a better than expected turnout.

Since I have some flexibility in my schedule, I will continue to venture out to the local establishments.   I even plan to bring some fliers with me next time advertising the upcoming parent-teacher conference night.  While I try to reach out to parents, the truth is that my school does have a bit of a PR problem when it comes to the perception that our teachers are able to relate to the community.  I figure that this approach is worth a shot.  If nothing else, I can ask my tax advisor if my carne asada tacos and horchata are considered a business expense if I'm at these establishments representing the school :)

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