SAN ANTONIO – A local school program aims to provide support and a safe learning environment for refugees.
“In 2003, refugees from San Antonio first arrived, and Colonial Hills and North East ISD were the first district to be able to begin bringing these students into our school,” said Kerry Haupert, Vice Principal of Bilingual and ESL. for newcomers.
About five years ago, North East ISD created the Refugee Newcomer Program.
The program offers one-on-one support from teachers and connects families from around the world to different resources.
“It’s a classroom in a setting to allow our students to have access to learning about culture, learning about school systems, learning about language, while having high expectations when it comes to academics and being able to be as successful as we know they can,” Haupert said.
Students come to the district from all over the world. Recently, a majority of them come from Afghanistan.
The district provides interpreters to help families in a number of ways.
“In our central office, we have a registration for them where we have two liaison officers who can speak Pashto or speak Dari, and are able to communicate with them. Even with our other languages, whether we have families from Congo that we register, we find ways to communicate with them,” Haupert said.
Through this program, students and families get the help they need.
“Whether it’s SEL support for social-emotional support or finding transportation,” Haupert said.
For many students in this program, this is their first time in a classroom.
“By putting them in a general classroom, they get lost in the mix, but through this newcomer program, we’ve seen our students excel. I’ve seen our students graduate from high school and now go to college,” Haupert said.
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