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​​ADSB welcomes and supports English Language Learners

Algoma District School Board has a number of supports in place to welcome English Language Learners (ELL) into our school communities.  Linda Kirby (ADSB’s K-8 Student Achievement Coordinator) and Kaila O’Callaghan (the Board’s Secondary Literacy Lead) are key members of the team who welcome new students and their families.

At a recent Board meeting, Linda helped to define who English Language Learners (ELL) are, based on ELL Policies and Procedures for Ontario Elementary and Secondary Schools. “English Language Learners are students in provincially funded English language schools whose first language is a language other than English, or a variety of English that is significantly different from the variety used for instruction in Ontario’s schools, and who may require focused educational supports to assist them in attaining proficiency in English. These students may be Canadian born or recently arrived from other countries.  They come from diverse backgrounds and school experiences and have a wide variety of strengths and needs.”

Picture1.pngAlgoma District School Board continues to welcome newcomers into our elementary and secondary schools, most recently from countries including China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Syria, with 21 newcomers arriving this fall.

A young english language learner (pictured left) is weclomed by Principal Mr. Dick and teachers Mrs. Whillans and Mrs. Lavoie. 

A range of different experiences has brought these families and students to Canada and the support provided from schools is imperative.   The Algoma District School Board, along with community partners, has developed an ELL registration procedure that provides a smooth orientation and transition for students and their families to both the community and to the school the children will be attending.

As we welcome new ELL students and their families, we meet together first with the school team, the Settlement Agency and/or Sponsoring Committee, a translator and ADSB’s English Language Learners program staff.  Recognizing that English Language Learners come with many assets and skills, an initial assessment is done to determine starting points.  The family is toured through the school, meeting teachers, visiting classrooms, and becoming familiar with the facilities – which can be as simple and yet as eye-opening as turning on a water fountain for the first time. 

The school coordinates a plan for a student’s first day at school, including orientation and introducing the student to a “peer-buddy”. This team approach ensures that there is a circle of support around the child and the family.

To further provide supports for ELL, Algoma District School Board will be hiring an itinerant ELL Teacher to support our K-12 newcomers. Professional learning supports for educators are upcoming in the next month.  This will allow time for teachers to attend workshops focused on supporting ELL in their classrooms. Translation supports for both student and teacher are being provided through the use of technology.                                                                    

Director of Education Lucia Reece took time to thank all who have been involved.  “We thank all who have played a part in welcoming our newest learners. This is an extensive list of individuals from bus drivers and crossing-guards to all school personnel and students who have set the tone and who have ensured that our newcomers are feeling welcomed, safe and appreciated.  This speaks to the caring character of ADSB employees and students.”