Helping Children New to the Country
The Newcomer Academy is part of the Jefferson County Public Schools. The transitional school was created in 2010 to meet the varying linguistic needs of new English language learners. The academy began this school year with 345 students and now has over 500. After the first year, most students are transitioned over to their respective schools in their English Student Learner (ESL) programs.
“We have a unique opportunity to celebrate all different cultures and for students to be proud of that,” said Teacher Darci Lewis. The staff serves as ambassadors for Louisville, working tirelessly to encourage families to become involved and seek out relationships inside and outside of their respective communities.
Darci tells the story of a Congolese family who arrived in Louisville after years spent in a refugee camp. The three children were enrolled in Newcomer Academy. They not only had to learn English, but they also had to learn the ways of the Western world. For example, no one in the family had ever used an electric stove. The parents went on to become successful in their jobs, and the children are successful in school. One child now attends college fulltime while holding down a job.
Librarian Staci Kottkamp checking out a book for a student. Beside Staci is her assistant Nasrin Dugla.
Teacher Darci Lewis with her middle school class.
How You Can Help
The academy accepts monetary donations and needs volunteers to help mentor families. For example, some families need help learning our public bus routes. At the top of the school’s wish list are sports/recreational items and hygiene necessities.
A mural in process that will be painted by students, various figures of people connected with henna.
The outside of the school. This is the first year they’ve had their own separate building. They have new students coming throughout the year. This year started with 300 and is now almost 700.
Natalie Srouji is the volunteer coordinator for the school and is also a substitute teacher.