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    Seattle Schools Community Leaders Honored for Work to Support Welcoming Environments
    Posted on 01/18/2019
    A photo of Mohamed Roble and Farhiya Omer

    Seattle Schools Community Leaders Honored for Work to Support Welcoming Environments

    Somali North American Business and Professional Inc. (SNABPI) awards the “Education Gateway out of Poverty Award” once a year. In December 2018, SNABI hosted an education event in Seattle and honored Seattle Public Schools’ Mohamed Roble and Farhiya Omer for their decades of service to the community.

    SNABPI is the world’s largest peer-to-peer network exclusively for entrepreneurs and professionals who identify as Somali. The group works across North America to celebrate individuals in social services — particularly education, housing, and health.

    Shukri Olow, program manager at King County and doctoral student at Seattle University, College of Education is a SNABPI board and co-lead for Washington state. Olow says of the recognition of Roble and Omer, “They help our families navigate complex systems like English language learners and special education and have a family-centered, strengths-based approach in delivering needed services.” She shares that both professionals are well-known throughout the community for being compassionate and for understanding the importance of supporting connection between schools and the district for all students and families who have been historically underserved.

    Collectively, Roble and Omer have worked in Seattle Public Schools for over 40 years. Roble began his journey as a tutor at South Shore PK-8, then became an instructional assistant, bilingual facilitator, enrollment specialist, and now serves as the school and family advocate in the Family Partnerships Department.

    Growing up in Mogadishu, Somalia, Roble says of his experience, “When I was going to school, we didn’t have parental involvement. The system here is different.” As a family advocate, he values supporting families. “We talk with parents and students to help them learn the system.”

    Omer began her days with the district 20 years ago as a volunteer at her children’s school High Point Elementary, now West Seattle Elementary School. She then transitioned into the role of tutor, instructional assistant, and now is in her current position as Somali language bilingual student facilitator in the department of ELL and International Services supporting all schools with translation and interpretation services.

    She says of what brings her to the office each day, “I love to work with students and their parents about how to navigate the system and how it works. In my community it is very needed. I feel like I’m proud of the work that I do.”

    And for them, the work doesn’t end Friday at 5 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, they serve as mediators for students and their families and volunteer their time to ensure families are honored for their wisdom in their school communities and have access to the resources that they need.

    They have hosted ongoing trainings and workshops for the community to share information and have facilitated space for support groups in the southeast region to convene to discuss such topics as the Highly Capable Program, increase in translation services, and enhanced communications.

    Olow shares two highlights, “In partnership with Islandwood, they sponsored a day trip to Islandwood and over 120 families attended to learn more about science, and camping! They [also] promote dual language and Somali language acquisition for our families: they worked on a Somali Language class that was hosted by Wing Luke [Elementary]!”

    Seattle Public Schools is honored to have such amazing individuals working in partnership with families across the district to promote truly welcoming environments where students feel safe and their differences are celebrated. Please join us in congratulating Mohamed Roble and Farhiya Omer.