New Americans Don’t Lose A Step In KCPS

Summer academy at East High School and Gladstone Elementary School helps recent immigrants

(PHOTOS BY: Ray Weikal/KCPS)

Kansas City, June 7, 2017: There is a whole world to be found at East High School and Gladstone Elementary School this summer.

East and Gladstone are hosting the New American Academy this June and July, part of the Kansas City Public Schools Summer Acceleration 2017 program. The academy serves more than 100 of the most recent English language learners from around the world who are now enrolled in KCPS.

A sample of the native languages spoken by these students includes Somali, Spanish, Arabic, Pashto, Karen and Tigrinya, which is spoken by people from Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The academy is designed to teach these diverse students how to navigate the process of expressing their identity in a new culture, according to Site Director Sharon Hayes. EHS alone includes students from about a dozen different countries, many of whom lived in refugee camps.

“We learn about the kids as they tell us about their journeys,” Ms. Hayes said. “A lot of them were refugees or come from some other type of traumatic situation and this is often the first opportunity they’ve had to talk and write about their experiences.”

Equally important, the academy is an opportunity for KCPS educators to identify where the students are in their academic development and help boost their achievement before the start of the fall semester. Just getting the students acclimated to attending school is often a challenge.

“These are all kids that have been in the country 12 months or less,” Ms. Hayes said. “In many cases, they may have had little or no formal education before moving here, so we need to figure out where they’re at, help them make some growth over the summer and then try to keep them on track.”

See more photos by visiting the KCPS Flickr site.