District and community welcome Albany International Center
N.Y. (Aug. 30, 2017) --
With the help of a translator, seventh-grader
Ungwa Mnyomoelwa told an audience of more
than 150 people on Wednesday that she was happy to be in America and
attending the Albany International Center.
Ungwa (pictured speaking at right) is from Tanzania
and spoke in her native Swahili at the ribbon-cutting for
the center, the City School District of Albany’s new program for refugee
and immigrant students. She’ll be one of almost 100 students in the
program when school starts on Tuesday.
Albany International Center is based at North
Albany Academy and will serve students in grades 6-12 who are in the
early stages of learning English.
To view more pictures from Wednesday's
here. (A Facebook account is not necessary to view this content.
A window may display the text "To see more from Albany City Schools on
Facebook, log in or create an account," but this can be dismissed by
clicking "not now.")
"Many of our
newcomer students have had their formal education interrupted because of
strife in their own countries. Some have had no education at all. Others
have had long stays in refugee camps; some have experienced violence and
extreme loss. Many are just learning to speak English. The language
barrier is their biggest obstacle to success in school and
assimilation," said Superintendent Kaweeda Adams.
Swahili, one of 57 languages spoken by
students in Albany public schools.
Adams also said that 1 in 8 Albany public school students
is an immigrant or refugee, then cited a list of immigrants who have
made Albany their home in the past four centuries. She welcomed newly
and recently arrived students and families that attended the ceremony
along with community members and elected officials.
Board of Education President Sue Adler remarked on
the difficulty of learning subjects in a new language – particularly one
as challenging as English.
“That’s why the intensive language support that
Albany International Center will provide is so important. Giving
students that foundation will help ensure that they understand what
they’re hearing and reading in school,” Adler said.
Students in the program will receive specialized
instruction in English as they gain academic skills in the core subjects
of math, science, social studies and English language arts. High school
students will earn credit for the courses they take.
program also will provide emotional support services to students
learning to assimilate to a new culture.
When fully enrolled the
program will serve about 175 students per year.
Albany International Center is considered a
transitional program, with students expected to spend one to two years
in the program. Once students strengthen their language skills, they’ll
return to their assigned middle school or Albany High School.
Helping to celebrate Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting were
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, state
Assemblyman John McDonald and state Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, along
with school board members Sridar Chittur, Ph.D., Ellen Roach, Anne
Savage and Vickie Smith.
They joined Ungwa in cutting the blue-and-white
ribbon to mark the official start of the new program.