Thu. Dec 5th, 2019

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Newcomer schools help kids adapt to US life

3 min read

(28 Nov 2019) FOR CLEAN VERSION SEE STORY NUMBER: apus127402

SAMUEL LAVI KNOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF A WARM WELCOME—
(High FIVE—)
HE’S OFTEN THE FIRST FACE THESE CHILDREN SEE AT THE VALENCIA NEWCOMER SCHOOL —
SOUNDBITE (English) Samuel Lavi, Teaching Assistant, Valencia Newcomer School:
“My most important role at this school is to make sure the students get what they’re supposed to get.”
AT THIS PHOENIX SCHOOL FOR MORE THAN 220 YOUNG REFUGEES, NORMALCY, SAFETY AND ROUTINE ARE CONSIDERED THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS KIDS GET—
SOUNDBITE (English) Rebecca Kawa, Student, Valencia Newcomer School:
“I like this school because they teach you English and then you learn English fast.”
CHILDREN LIKE 10-YEAR-OLD REBECCA KAWA, WHO WAS BORN IN A REFUGEE CAMP IN UGANDA, AFTER HER FAMILY FLED THE VIOLENCE OF CIVIL WAR TORN CONGO.
SOUNDBITE (English) Sarah Howell, Social Worker, Las Americas:
“It’s incredibly hard to have a consistent environment when life is chaotic outside.”
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS CAPPED REFUGEE ADMISSIONS TO AN HISTORIC LOW  OF ROUGHLY 18-THOUSAND –  SIMILAR SCHOOLS IN Rhode Island, INDIANA, North Carolina AND TEXAS FILL A NEED.
(Natural Sound Up Full: Teacher reading out sentence to children)
HERE IN HOUSTON, THE LAS AMERICAS SCHOOL FACES THE SAME CHALLENGES, CHILDREN ARRIVE, SOME NOT KNOWING THEIR OWN AGE OR LAST NAME…. SO THEY NEED TO GET UP TO SPEED LEARNING ENGLISH.
(Pause)
AS WELL AS CLASSROOM CUSTOMS BEFORE HEADING TO MAINSTREAM PUBLIC SCHOOL.
SOUNDBITE (English) Marie Moreno, Principal, Las Americas Newcomer School:
“We have students from up 32 different countries speaking 29 different languages.”
BUT BEFORE THERE’S ANY LEARNING DONE, TEACHERS AND STAFF JUST WANT THE KIDS TO FEEL SAFE THIS IN NEW ENVIRONMENT.
SOUNDBITE (English) Marie Moreno, Principal, Las Americas Newcomer School:
“As soon as they walk in the door, we want them to feel welcome to feel safe.”
BECAUSE IF THEIR GUARD IS UP, TEACHING THEM ANYTHING IS NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE—
SOUNDBITE (English) Marie Moreno, Principal, Las Americas Newcomer School:
“So this is our Las Americas butterfly sensory garden…”
ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS  the 400 or so STUDENTS ENCOUNTER AT LAS AMERICAS NEWCOMER SCHOOL…
SOUNDBITE (English) Marie Moreno, Principal, Las Americas Newcomer School:
“We tried to make a place so that students feel safe.”
….A PEACE GARDEN— MADE UP OF PLANT SPECIES MEANT TO CALM CHILDREN WHO’VE OFTEN WITNESSED  UNSPEAKABLE TRAUMA AND VIOLENCE—
LAS AMERICAS GRANTED A-P ACCESS ON THE CONDITION WE NOT SHOW STUDENTS FACES, AS MANY HAVE ACTIVE ASYLUM CASES, THE MAJORITY FROM Central American COUNTRIES.
Marie Moreno, Principal, Las Americas Newcomer School:
“Our job is to make sure that they learn English and make sure they do well in school and that they’re safe. If we can just make that day to day, we can hopefully make that months and years out of that .”
THE STAFF SUPPORTING THESE KIDS EMPHASIZE THEIR RESILIENCY…
SAYING ONCE THEY ADJUST… THEY EXCEL.
JOHN MONE ASSOCIATED PRESS HOUSTON.

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