Summer Program Helps Boost English Learners' Academic Success

A group of middle schoolers collaborate on their work.

While many of their peers are sleeping in and enjoying a carefree summer, nearly 100 English Language Learner students voluntarily report to summer school each weekday so that when they officially return to school on Aug. 21, they will be well prepared for the challenge.

“Teachers tell us that students who participate in our program do better than those who don’t participate,” said program director Kitty Leung. Leung is manager of Children, Youth and Family Services for ASIA Inc., which co-sponsors the summer program with Lakewood City Schools.

The summer ELL program, which draws about 100 students in kindergarten through 12th grade from countries such as Thailand, Uganda, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Nepal and Afghanistan, began back in 2008 when it was housed at St. Luke’s Church. In 2011, the District became a co-sponsor and the program moved to Emerson Elementary, where it has access to classrooms and any of the technology available in the classrooms such as laptops and smartboards. The District also supplies two full-time ELL teachers. The teachers are part of a 10-person teaching staff plus interns and community volunteers who help the students progress in the core subjects of reading, math, science and social studies.

While the primary goal of the program is to help the students be better prepared for the rigors of the school-year learning, ancillary benefits are not overlooked by the staff.

Coming to Emerson every day “gives them a safe environment to go to….it gives them a continuity,” said Leung. “They are learning, but they are also having fun.” The program also provides breakfast and lunch every day through donations from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

More importantly, the program is a place where children who may otherwise feel more isolated from their new community in the summertime find a place to re-connect with others in a similar situation. They also have the opportunity to interact with some of their American peers who are attending day camp in the Emerson building as well.

The program is a great example of our community embracing its diversity and offering resources to help our newest residents succeed.

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Volume 13, Issue 14, Posted 12:35 PM, 07.18.2017