SAN ANTONIO – A local school program aims at providing support and a safe learning environment for refugees.
“Back in 2003, refugees in San Antonio were first arriving and Colonial Hills and North East ISD was the first district to be able to start having these students being able to come into our school,” said Kerry Haupert, assistant director of Bilingual and ESL for Newcomers.
About five years ago, North East ISD created the Newcomer Program for refugees.
The program offers one on one support from teachers and links families who have arrived from across the world to different resources.
“It’s a classroom in a setting to be able to allow our students to be able to have access to learning about the culture, learning about school systems, learning the language, while holding high expectations in regards to the 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 are coming from Afghanistan.
The district provides families with interpreters to help them in many ways.
“At out central office, we have registration for them where we have two liaisons who are able to speak Pashto or speak Dari, and be able to communicate with them. Even with our other languages whether we have families coming from the 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 whether it’s finding transportation,” Haupert said.
For many of the students in this program, this is their first time in a classroom.
“By placing them into a general classroom they get lost in the mix, but by having this newcomer program, we have seen our students excel. Seen our students graduate from high school and now going on to college,” Haupert said.