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ESL teachers in Lansing help Afghan refugees acclimate to a new way of life

Classroom scene with teacher in front and several rows of students sitting at tables, some are raising their hands.
R. Stratton
/
Courtesy of the Lansing School District
A sheltered classroom at North Elementary School in Lansing, MI, with newly arrived students from Afghanistan. (March 2022).

About 90 children and young adults have enrolled in the Lansing School District after fleeing Afghanistan following last summer’s Taliban takeover.

Those students are now participating the bilingual education department's English as a second language, or ESL, services which helps them adapt to a new way of life.

The Lansing School District has welcomed new arrivals to the country for more than five decades.

In February, the district hired three new teachers for its ESL program. One of them is helping the Afghan refugees learn English.

Sergio Keck is the Deputy Superintendent for special populations for the district. He says finding instructors who speak the same language as the refugees is critical.

"The ability to find people to work with our kids and families that have the same language is the bridge between the home, the teachers the school and the kids," he said.

Keck adds some graduates of the program now attending Michigan State University have returned as volunteers.

The district's bilingual education department has been in operation since 2005.

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