The two high school teachers knocked at Apartment 512 of a Crystal City high-rise and waited to see the inside of Alvaro Nunez Alvarez’s life. Up to that point, the teachers knew this about 14-year-old Alvaro: He was quiet, reports the Washington Post. He had recently arrived from somewhere in Latin America. He was smart and ambitious. They were there to fill in the blanks—to conduct a kind of parent-teacher conference on the family’s turf. There’s no better way, many educators say, to turn distant or unresponsive parents into allies and communicators actively involved in the education of their children....

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