Sunday, August 20, 2006

Immigrant kids get language help

Schenectady summer program gives children instruction on reading and writing in English

By JENNIFER PATTERSON, Staff writer Click byline for more stories by writer. First published: Tuesday, August 15, 2006
SCHENECTADY -- Nearly 50 immigrant students in the Schenectady City School District have been attending a new six-week literacy program at Lincoln Elementary School to improve their English language skills.
The American Summer Academy provides one-on-one and small-group instruction to students who need to improve their English reading and writing skills but were not eligible to take English as a Second Language classes during the school year. The program is supported by a $50,000 federal grant.
"With a 5-to-1 (teacher-student) ratio, we can really focus on individual needs," said site supervisor Carol Green. "All the students continue to make huge strides."
Students in kindergarten through fifth-grade attend the program daily from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and get breakfast, lunch and transportation for free. They work in grade-level groups on reading, writing and a variety of hands-on activities and have taken class trips to the Schenectady County Public Library, the Asian Food Market, Europa Beauty School and more.
Each classroom has at least one teacher, a para-professional and an AmeriCorps volunteer. Students have been reading about Greek mythology, writing their own fairy tales and reciting oral book reports, all to prepare them for this school year.
"This is a volunteer program, but the students have great attendance records and show up every day eager to learn," Green said. The parents have been cooperative and involved in the curriculum, she added.
The program was first offered to immigrant students new to the school district. Any openings were then offered to immigrant families with more than one student enrolled in the district and to regular English as a second language students who required additional attention.
This is the first year the district has offered the program, but Green hopes it will continue in the future.
"We really do see a difference," she said.

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