West Springfield offers bilingual class for Puerto Rican evacuees

(Western Mass News photo)

As Puerto Rican evacuees settle into Western Massachusetts, schools are working hard to provide optimal learning opportunities for new students.

Learning English can be an added challenge for newcomers working to succeed.

West Springfield decided to add bilingual classes and staff to their school system to help students from Puerto Rico.

“We’re trying to get them back into their schooling and settle into an environment where they are learning their routines and procedures and getting back into education,” said Michele Toolan, a bilingual teacher.

The new program allowing students to learn in their native tongue launched on Monday.

“It’s a big jigsaw puzzle but one that we managed to put together pretty well. We’ve opened a new classroom in two different elementary schools. It hasn’t required too much displacement,” said Superintendent Michael Richard.

The new program does come at a cost. The district afforded $150,000 for staff.

“We are hopeful that as the state makes some funding available to districts that have accommodated pr evacuees that we’ll get our share of that,” said Richard.

Many students are facing challenges outside of school. Staff are prepared to assist in student’s needs.

“We’re looking to make sure that they come, that they get breakfast, lunch...at least a snack, because it’s a real crisis,” said Toolan. “Children are resilient. So we’re lucky enough to have these amazing, beautiful children with us,” she continued.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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