JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — While the adults of newly migrated Colombian families in Jamestown search for housing and wait for their court date to obtain legal documents, children of these families are already integrating into our public school system.
Educators at Jamestown Public Schools tell us families have settled in the same area of town, allowing the children to attend the same schools depending on their age.
“So with regard to schooling, we’ve done immigrant students many times. We have an English is a new language program, so getting them in school was really quite seamless and painless. We have enough ENL teachers to deliver the instruction to the students,” explains Tamu Reinhardt, Coordinator of Student Support Systems.
Despite having different variances in Spanish, a number of the ENL, English as a new language, teachers and aids are helping the transition.
“I do know that this year they’ll be exempt from the ELA and math tests, exempt from the ELA not the math because they can get the math in Spanish. And so they’re exempt from that for this year while they’re working on improving their language, and then next year they’ll take the ELA exam,” explains Reinhardt.
The new students attend the same classes as their peers with an ENL expert co-teaching, and also receive small group instruction. For the school, the goal is to have students be proficient in both languages, which awards them a special seal on their diploma.
The school eyes an adult education program for migrant to learn English as well.
“One of the things I would like to see is, even if we’re offering English classes, when their numbers come in, as they start to work it would be nice to see if Bush Industries needed fifteen people or ten people can you guys just invest in enough English for them to know practicing. For them to know if they’re working on the assembly line, they’re working packing or what have you just learn enough English for that setting while they’re continuing to learn the English of the mainstream,” says Reinhardt.
Since the families did not come through a resettlement agency like Journey’s End, they have been on their own to find housing and other necessities. While the school has made connections with community resources for these families, some of services cannot help unless the individual in need has a Social Security Number.
“I just don’t understand why it has to take so long, even if it’s just a temporary number. They have to, it’s my understanding they have to check in everyday with immigration, that’s why they got the phones. And so they’re doing that, and they don’t want to work under the table, they absolutely don’t want to. Because the deportation officer actually mentioned to them, if you start working under the table, you get caught, you’re going back,” says Reinhardt.
Many community members, however, are volunteering their time to give rides to those who need them, as well as seats at their own dinner tables.
This is part two of a multi-part special report series documenting immigration to Jamestown, NY. View part part one, “Migrants In Jamestown: Why They Chose To Resettle In WNY” here and part two, Migrants In Jamestown: What Resources Are Needed? here. WNY News Now’s Justin Gould contributed to this report.