District Teams With Nonprofit To Help Tutor Refugees

In an effort to help Lakewood’s newest citizens succeed, the Lakewood City Schools and Asian Services in Action Inc. (ASIA), have teamed up to provide tutoring services for the District’s more than 180 refugee students across grades K-12.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities, passed unanimously by the Lakewood Board of Education on Feb. 6, calls for the District to provide space at Emerson Elementary School for ASIA Inc. to conduct tutoring sessions two days a week after school. The District will also provide computers, software, textbooks, smart boards and other resource materials to help accelerate the students’ assimilation into the schools and the community.

“This is a win-win for everyone,” Assistant Superintendent Kevin Bright told the Board. “They help us reach the families and we help them with resources.” Bright informed the Board members that 95% of the District’s refugee students come to our schools directly from refugee camps in countries such as Somalia, Myanmar and Bhutan and that it can take a new English learner from such circumstances 5-7 years to reach grade level proficiency of their American peers.

“What the District is trying to do is help accelerate these students’ growth,” Bright said.

ASIA Inc. has been conducting after school tutoring sessions off-site from the schools for a few years now, with about 80 of the refugee students participating. Those sessions have been staffed mostly by volunteers. The new agreement calls for the District to provide at least one certified tutor for all the afternoon sessions.

ASIA Inc.'s Executive Director, Michael Byun, called the agreement, “another step in forging partnerships with receiving communities.”

ASIA Inc. has been providing services and resources to help newcomers assimilate into their communities for 17 years and Byun noted that the immigrants “come here with hope and opportunities and ambitions and they really work hard” to succeed.

ASIA Inc. will also be working with Lakewood High School students who participate in the City of Lakewood’s Help To Others program. A training session will be held at the end of the month that will enable the H2O students to assist in the tutoring sessions that ASIA Inc. has been conducting at St. Luke Church in Lakewood for a number of years now.

For the District, whatever can be done to aid the refugees is a plus.

“It is in all of our best interests in the community to provide as many resources as we can to help these students succeed,” Bright said.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 PM, 02.21.2012