School liaisons are ‘like working with Santa Claus’ for some DISD schools

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In schools, we spend a lot of time talking about teachers, principals, etc. But there’s a big role who brings everyone together we don’t talk about much.

DALLAS — In the past three years, Principal Jacob Johnson can detect a significant change at Stephen C. Foster Elementary.

“We have data that shows our staff climate is the best it has been in over a decade,” Johnson told WFAA.

He believes much of the credit belongs to a school liaison program between 50 Dallas ISD schools and the educational nonprofit United to Learn.

“It is kind of like working with Santa Claus,” said Johnson. “Everything you wish and dream, they come through with it.”

At Foster Elementary, that liaison is Renza Diaz. Her children are already out of school, but for Diaz, the opportunity to volunteer with United to Learn and work with Foster Elementary fulfills a sense of responsibility.

“I have always been very interested in education,” Diaz said. “I think it is the most important thing a community can give its children.”

The liaisons for each school spend time working with principals and staff to help bridge the gaps and provide resources their designated campus might need. In the three years since being assigned to Foster, Diaz has helped reorganize and decorate the library, establish after-school and tutoring programs and secure funding for playground soccer goals just to name a few projects.

“Without educating (children) to give them opportunities we are selling ourselves short,” said Diaz. “At the end of the day it is about connecting.”

Having someone devoted to helping and molding campus is invaluable, according to Johnson.

“Renza and I talk every day. She is here all the time and she’s Foster family,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the support from Diaz and United to Learn have helped the school retain teachers by making them feel supported.