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In an effort to better serve immigrants and refugees, Manchester School District adjusts its ESL program

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To boost communication with students and families, the Manchester School District is distributing handbooks with information about its English as a second language program to speakers of other languages services.

Unlike other years, the district’s guide will include information about contacting the bilingual staff personally, which has been an issue for parents before.

The material was translated into nine languages, including Dari, due to an increase of Afghan students.

The guide is accessible here, but it will also be posted on the district web page and printed for parents who do not have internet access.

But the district wants the families to feel welcomed beyond the school. They have compiled a directory of community resources from paying the water or electricity bill, finding adult classes, after-school clubs, resumé building, and food support systems.

Nicole Ponti, executive director of English learner instruction, says the packet is helpful for newcomers and for parents who need information about the school options.

“Registration is the most difficult process, and we want to make that information clearer. We also have highlighted the different structures of the ESOL program so parents can have better conversations about their kid’s high school diplomas,” says Ponti.

Another service the families will find is instructions on how to open an account on ASPEN an online portal where teachers record students’ progress and email a teacher at any time with questions.

As part of these efforts, the district is also announcing four open positions for liaisons, a much-needed service among parents who complain about the lack of bilingual support.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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