In response to a growing number of immigrants in Providence- some of them refugees - Mayor Jorge Elorza and Public School Superintendent Chris Maher have created a new high school program just for them.
The Newcomer Program is in its third week and serves 41 students coming from Africa, the Middle East, and Central America. Students don’t speak English, haven’t received more than two years of formal schooling, and many escaped violence in their countries.
The newcomers receive rigorous teaching in small groups with translators. Other than English lessons, students take traditional math and science classes. And unlike traditional immersive language learning, the idea is to ease students into a learning environment with plenty of support.
The Newcomer Program is also designed to reduce the culture shock experienced by newly arrived students. RIPTA employees have visited and taught students how to navigate the city using public transit.
School officials say the program provides students with a social worker trained to handle any trauma experienced by students and a case manager from Dorcas International, the refugee resettlement program.
Students in the Newcomer Program can remain enrolled up to two years. The program which can take in up to 104 students is funded by state money set aside for English Language Learners.
Students learn in a separate building on Messer Street in the West End but are technically part of Jorge Alvarez High School.