District Administration October 2016 - 34

Route to refugee success Success stories: Refugees from Burma, Congo, Iraq, Nepal and Somalia now attend school in the Rochester district. Such students have grown from having arrived with no formal schooling to moving ahead of grade level and passing state Regents exams. verbs are, she says. Teachers must also differentiate instruction to suit both students who attended school in their home countries and those who have never been in a classroom. The school receives extra translation help from former students who have been trained and then return to volunteer their services. And it's all working. "We now have students moving two, three years ahead of grade level-we have students passing Regents Exams and graduating," Andrecolich-Diaz says. Instruction becomes more urgent when it comes to refugee high school students who must become fluent before graduating and going on to college or a career, adds Lui, from Granite schools in Utah. The district's Cottonwood High School is home to a specialized language academy where students learn English and core subjects in an accelerated environment. Students can also take electives and participate in extracurricular activities with the school's general population. Expand horizons Refugees are often relocated to metropolitan areas that have an existing population from their country. Expanding cultural horizons is not a one-way street in the districts that serve these cities. When Kizner was younger and attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg in the 1980s. He recalls that the city had only Italian and Chinese restaurants. Now it has Arabic, Kurdish and authentic Spanish restaurants. Harrisonburg schools host regular nighttime and weekend events where im- "We don't want these kids to lose their identities, because their identities are an important part of their success in the U.S." -Scott Kizner, superintendent, Harrisonburg City Schools migrant students can share their food, art and music with the entire community. For instance, the district recently hosted a Latino ballet troupe-a rare event in a more rural setting like Harrisonburg. In a 2014 study of California schools, 55 percent of Muslim students (not all of whom were refugees) reported having been bullied. In the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, the U.S. Department of Education at the beginning of 2016 warned all schools to watch out for harassment of refugee students, particularly Muslims. In Harrisonburg, prejudice against refugee students has been rare, Kizner says, though one newly-arrived middle schooler several years ago had a head-covering pulled off repeatedly by a group of boys. By the time she graduated, she told Kizner nothing like that had happened for several years. The district has Hispanic, Arab and other ethnocentric student groups that are open to students of any background. "We don't want these kids to lose their identities," Kizner says, "because their identities are an important part of their success in the U.S." DA Matt Zalaznick is senior associate editor. 34 October 2016 District Administration

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration October 2016

District Administration October 2016 - Cover1
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