School hosts English learning forum | Local News

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About 20 families of Spanish-speaking students from the New Castle Area School District attended a school-sponsored forum last week to learn about what services are available at schools and in the community.

The district-sponsored English Learners’ Night, held at the high school on June 2, was for all levels and included speakers, interpreters and representatives from various community services.

The program was for all students who speak languages ​​other than English, explained Dr. John Mozzoccio, district ELL program manager.

The district has about 90 students in total — 30 at Lockley Early Learning Center, 30 at George Washington Intermediate School and 30 in high school — participating in the program, and all but one are Spanish speakers, Mozzoccio said. A kindergarten child speaks Chinese but also understands a little English.

The program focused on “connection, communication and collaboration,” he said. “We celebrate inclusivity and diversity as we seek to provide equitable experiences for all students in the district.”

The purpose of the evening was to highlight what the district is doing in its ELL programs, and each of its three ELL teachers were in attendance so parents and families of students could put faces to names, Mozzoccio said. The district also currently employs four interpreters spread across its three schools.

Additionally, the district uses an online language line that interprets hundreds of languages, to help break down language barriers.

A PowerPoint presentation showed photos of ELL students engaged and working in their classrooms and in extracurricular activities.

Families in attendance were given surveys to complete to offer feedback on district strengths and areas for improvement in programs, Mozzoccio said.

Community resources and agencies have set up stations to help parents, families and students access the various programs and supports available in surrounding communities.

Among the agencies represented were the Human Services Center, which provided information on mental health services; the YMCA on fitness and summer programs; a district-sponsored table staffed by coaches of various boys’ and girls’ varsity sports; Professional psychology services; CareerLink, Arise, Cray Youth and Family Services, New Castle Public Library and Children’s Advocacy Center.

Information was also available on how to access a data management system called Sapphire, which allows parents to connect to a child’s accounts with grades, progress reports and communication with teachers.

“Each agency talked about what they can offer the ELL community,” Mozzoccio said.

Maria Delgado, Commissioner for Latino Affairs, helped organize the event and performed the message throughout the night in the auditorium. Mozzoccio and Superintendent Debbie DeBlasio were also speakers.

“Our message was that we are a close-knit community and we are here to meet the needs of every student,” Mozzoccio said.

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