BY ROBYN BARBOUR
Every morning when I get to school, I see students from many countries in the hall. They are dropped off early so they can have a hot breakfast before class. The students speak Farsi, Arabic, Pashto, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog and many more languages. They have fled violence and war, and their most compelling desire is to learn English and begin new lives here.
One student has been with me for three years, but this is the first year I have had him in an English class. He was injured in the Iraq War when he was young and he still bears the scars and the trauma. Other students are new to me, but they all share the struggle of learning not only a new language, but a new culture.
The students work from textbooks designed for English as a second language students. They also work on independent reading – books that every kid their age reads – and two supplemental reading websites. During the second half of class, the nine boys work on 12 donated Chromebooks while the girls read, and then they switch. They hand each other the computers carefully, and there is no arguing or play, even though some of these students are only in sixth grade.