As summer winds down and we head to back to school season, we're reflecting on our growing refugee education program, which provides English as a Second Language (ESL) to refugee youth and adults alike in Philadelphia. This summer we launched a program in Northeast Philadelphia, the most immigrant intense area of the city; in most of the neighborhoods of Northeast Philadelphia, 20% of the population is foreign-born, and in the 19111 zip code it's up to 32%! Because of the rapid growth of immigrant population in Northeast Philadelphia, social service agencies and schools are stretched to their limits.
As an agency that historically served residents of Northeast Philadelphia, we were well-positioned to begin ESL programming there. Thanks to a pass-through grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, awarded to us by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, we were able to being providing much needed assistance. For a look into what a day in the classroom looks like, read on!
We're also well underway with the planning of our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, October 14! Register today for your tickets for this great event and see below for more information.
A Snapshot of All Saints ESL
Every morning at All Saints Episcopal Church in Philadelphia's Northeast, from 9 a.m. til noon, HIAS PA Education Coordinator Kimberly Mitchell and volunteers Razi Heckler and Geneva Bolger worked with 21 six to fifteen year-olds. They were teaching math and ESL, the system used to teach non-native English speakers how to learn the language through vocabulary and conversation. In the afternoon, Kim, Razi and Geneva transitioned to teaching teenagers - 9 twelve to seventeen year olds. The students were from all over the globe – the Congo to Afghanistan to El Salvador - and their education levels varied greatly. The team, along with teachers Maria, Rhonda, and Kelly, came up with imaginative, age-appropriate lessons and games - such as building blocks to help with math - to keep the kids engaged and laughing because “the little kids have enough energy to power the whole church!" They also ran daily small group reading circles where the children got to choose what books they wanted to read together and allowed them to take books home and return them the next day.
One of their students was M. from Spruance Elementary School who is 15 but going into the 8th grade. When the after school program began, he was could not read at all. By the end he was sounding out consonant clusters and a small number of words and reading entire children's books with support from an adult.
Our summer classes ran from early July to mid August. In the fall, classes will continue to run with our after school ESL program, at Northeast High School and Spruance Elementary School.
Annual Meeting: REUNION!
Jewish Community Services Building, 2100 Arch Street, 12:00-1:30 PM
León Rodríguez, Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Boris Brant and Rachel-Lyudmila Merlina, Survivors of World War II, resettled by HIAS Pennsylvania
Maria Sotomayor, Immigration advocate and Civic Engagement & Community Outreach Coordinator at Pennsylvania's Immigration & Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
LeQuyen Vu, Executive Director of the Indochinese-American Council, whose family was resettled by HIAS Pennsylvania
Tickets are available today! Get yours now.