Johana Rodriguez Quist
November 2015 KSSN Spotlight
For the month of November, we are spotlighting Johana Rodriguez Quist, our community school coordinator at Burton Elementary in the Grand Rapids Public Schools district. As a community school coordinator, Johana describes her role as being a “one-stop shop” for the Burton staff and families. She focuses on increasing parent involvement by planning events, classes, and informational meetings, and helps families with barriers that, when unaddressed, can lead to student chronic absenteeism. Johana has a strong connection to Burton. Though she was born in Puerto Rico, her dad moved to Grand Rapids to pursue his Master’s Degree, and Johana lived with him in the Burton neighborhood, right behind the school, and her stepmom also worked at Burton for 20 years!
Johana loves building relationships with parents and kids, and also loves connecting the Burton business community to the families. She says it’s an important opportunity for bridging healthier relationships and cultural awareness. One of her favorite things about Burton Elementary is being around strong Latina women. She says it makes her even more proud of her culture, and the Burton families are giving, hardworking and brave. She says the environment at Burton is polite and loving, and “it is the BEST school on the planet!”
Johana knows that her work is making an impact because the community offers many tools that help families, and she makes those tools and resources accessible by bringing them to the school and delivering help to the families in their native language. The families trust what she recommends because of the relationships she has developed with them. “This collaborative effort empowers families in a way that preserves their dignity. We use our network to support the family in removing those issues.”
One of the things Johana is most proud of is the fact that she coordinated Burton parents to help distribute over 450 sack suppers for Kids’ Food Basket. Through this parent volunteering effort, Johana was thrilled to watch friendships develop between many moms who previously had felt alone and isolated.
When Johana is not busy at Burton, she enjoys mountain biking and singing with her husband. Interestingly, she was the lead in two high school musicals, including Sandy in GREASE.
We thank you, Johana, for all your dedication and advocacy. You work tirelessly and selflessly to make the Burton community a better, more inclusive place, and you always have a smile on your face and an unwavering spirit!