Springdale TV Show Hopes to Bridge Gap Between Spanish-Speaking Parents and School District

Photo provided by Cafecito + Charla

By Pamela Acosta

Local TV show Cafecito + Charla, or Coffee + Chat in English, is attempting to bridge the gap between Spanish-speaking parents and the Springdale School District.

The program is organized by the districts and covers topics relevant to the growing Hispanic community. Its goal is to keep Spanish-Speaking parents updated and involved in what’s happening in their children’s schools and the Springdale community as a whole.

The Springdale Public Schools District is the largest school district in the state, with almost 50% of its student body coming from a Spanish-speaking household, and staff there say it’s their goal to create a model for inclusion for other districts to follow.

Community outreach liaison for Springdale Public Schools and host of Coffee + Chat Maribel Tapia said the show represents a resource that she and her parents didn’t have when they first arrived in Springdale in the 90s.

“I was with them whenever they had to get information or go to the school. And I felt, you know, how they were made to feel because they didn’t have the language,” said Tapia. “I did not want any other family going through the experiences my family and I went through.”

Tapia is a first-generation student. Her mother and father didn’t attend school in the United States and therefore didn’t know how the school system worked.

“Growing up, we were left to figure things out on our own. Nobody was there,” said Tapia. “My parents left our education to the teachers and the school because they believed teachers knew what was best for you. And I feel like that has shifted a little, but still needs to shift a little more.”

Tapia said she believes that children are best served when parents and educators work together. She hopes that Cafecito + Charla provide that platform to connect the two and empower Hispanic parents to be more active participants in their children’s education.

Tapia’s idea for the show began when she worked at Springdale’s ESL office. She hosted a weekly meet-up with guest speakers who would talk to parents about different topics of interest, such as immigration, health, and what was happening at the schools.

“Parents felt safer and protected and were able to speak their mind, ask those questions that maybe they wouldn’t ask in a public forum,” said Tapia.

“I was very proud of that and felt it was a great concept because a lot of parents are not familiar with how the US education system works.”

When she started working in the communications department for the school district, she was able to take her idea further, and Cafecito + Charla was born.

The show is now on its second season, with around 30 episodes from season one already under its belt. Each episode is a short “snack-size” video in Spanish. Tapia is also the moderator for a community group on Facebook that helps the school district’s Spanish-speaking parents feel connected.

Tapia’s goal is for other school districts in the state to take notice of Cafecito + Charla and replicate it in their districts.

“My vision and hope for this are that other school districts will notice what we’re doing and lean toward their community and their parents,” said Tapia.