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Parents of English language learners flock to annual conference

Parents at the city’s 10th annual English language learners conference literally lept out of their chairs at the chance to meet and take a photo with Chancellor Dennis Walcott this morning.

During his brief speech about how the parents could help their children in school, dozens of parents crowded around the stage, cameras and smart-phones in hand. More later greeted him off-stage, where he shook hands and posed for photos.

The conference was organized by the Department of Education and the non-profit Learning Leaders to share resources with parents who may be recent immigrants to the country and may not be fluent in English, but want to learn more about the public education system. After the main addresses, parents dispersed to a series of workshops.

Throughout the conference, city officials urged parents to set high expectations for their children when they apply to colleges and jobs, and to actively discuss academics with them.

“Who is your child’s first teacher?” Angelia Infante, the executive director of the city’s office of ELLs, shouted at the hundreds of parents who filled the conference hall. “I am,” they yelled back.

Laura Martinez was among the dozens of families who hung around after Walcott’s speech to shake his hand. She said in Spanish that she heard about the conference through an email from administrators at I.S. 318, where she is the Parent Teacher Association president.

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