For the month of April, we decided to bestow the honor of Volunteer of the Month on a repeat designee, Alicia Spinner. Long-time Highlands resident, Alicia has been part of many endeavors in the Highlands over the years. She has founded or been integral to starting community clubs and she produces special events, some of them on a monthly basis (like Latino Club, Club Inclusive, and formerly, Toddler Playgroup). Some are large-scale national holidays (like Three King’s Day and Dia de los Muertos). Through it all, Alicia’s efforts support inclusion in the diverse community of Issaquah Highlands. Thank you, Alicia, for all you do!
This month, Alicia is producing an Alebrijes Workshop for Children’s Day, April 8th, 4-7pm at Blakely Hall. See more details and RSVP online >
Last fall, Alicia took on the big job of Magazine Editor of Cultural Bridges, a monthly publication supported by the Issaquah Schools Foundation. The publication serves families with school-aged children with valuable information in four languages: English, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese.
When did the Cultural Bridges program begin?
Cultural Bridges is a program of the Issaquah School Foundation and it started in 2015. I have been one of the biggest cheerleaders of this project since its beginning. I understand the need for a communication tool like this for parents like me, who did not grow up in the American educational system. Even today, I often find myself searching online for things like the number of years for middle school or for high school. And to be honest, many of the topics that we are researching for the magazine are as interesting and new to me as for the readers.
Why do you think Cultural Bridges is important to the community of Issaquah Highlands?
Cultural Bridges is a family engagement program that serves as a bridge of communication between the Issaquah School District and parents who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse. And since our community is so diverse, there is a great number of neighbors that are using the magazine already to be informed and involved in their children’s education.
What is your motivation for taking on this job of Editor?
I feel it was a great match for me on many different levels. After all, this project is the perfect combination of two of my loves: writing and serving the diverse community of Issaquah. I have been volunteering in almost every event and opportunity at Grand Ridge Elementary and have been a member of the PTSA board for seven years. Throughout all of this time, I felt the most satisfied when serving as a bridge between the school and a parent who did not grow up in America. And now, Cultural Bridges is giving me the opportunity to reach and serve many more families. I am very honored to be part of the Cultural Bridges’ team!
What does the editor do and what do you hope to accomplish?
I am in charge of putting the magazine together, and supervise the work of the English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese editors. I also help with the design for the cover and I get together with many teachers and educators to make sure the content is relevant to our readers.
I spend a good deal of time questioning what is relevant to our readers. I host focus groups at my house and it has been an enlightening experience. I have been amazed at how much we assumed other people know or understand. As an example, in one of the meetings somebody asked: How schools are funded? And then I realized none of the other moms knew the answer to the question. So, we will have a page dedicated to this topic on the next issue of the magazine.
What are your most difficult challenges?
Distribution. The magazine is sent to every family who has a child in the ELL (English Language Learners) program, but I am sure that there are many more families that could use this information. We haven’t found a good way to reach them, yet.
Any other comments?
I would love to hear from the readers. I am open to new ideas and topics for content. Please don’t hesitate to contact me! Alicia Spinner, Cultural Bridges Magazine Editor firstname.lastname@example.org.