Burlington School District Home Page
December
Numbers for half the year

The following are the final numbers for Refugee Resettlement for the 2015-2016 fiscal year:

November

 
Resources post-election: Following is a letter that has been circulating recently in the district from Denise Lamoureux, Refugee Office director: 

Dear Refugee and Immigrant Service Providers Network:
 
I heard stories from some of you about being contacted by refugees and immigrants who are afraid to walk outside looking foreign (especially women wearing the veil)  or are refusing to send their children to school for fear of harassment.  Clearly, our neighbors are feeling very vulnerable right now. We all hope that the worries do not materialize but that does not make the fear less real to them and important to address.
 
Service providers at the recent Refugee Health Committee thought that it is critical that new Americans and other minorities in our midst know that there are a lot of people who will stand up for them here and protect them and that we want everyone to feel safe.
 
A colleague of mine from the Health Department sent me this article and I wanted to share it with you.  https://www.statnews.com/2016/11/11/kids-post-trump/.  This article reminds us that not only adults are affected and that children are very much aware of recent events.
 
There is a good resources page from the Boston Public Schools that’s linked in the article.  Here is the direct link to that page http://bostonpublicschools.org/election2016.
 
Additionally, the Vermont Human Rights Commission has a page with links to resources on housing discrimination, harassment and bullying, ACLU, etc.http://hrc.vermont.gov/resources/additional
 
I look forward to seeing you on Thursday at the RISPNet meeting.  We have a packed agenda but we’ll try to take a few minutes to reflect on how to best support and reassure our newest Vermonters.
 
Warm regards,
 
Denise
 
Denise Lamoureux
Director, Refugee Office | State Refugee Coordinator
Vermont Agency of Human Services | Office of the Secretary
280 State Drive Waterbury, VT 05671-1000
(802) 241-0429 or (802) 652-4192

Here is a preliminary list of resources we are using in the BSD:
 
Post-Election Tools for Teachers
 
From Bobby Riley, Principal at IAA
Here is the letter Bobby sent to his staff the night of the election, before the official results came out.  He provides some wonderful tips for teachers, such as exploring the concept of bullying and the power of our words, empowering children to “be the change,” and explaining that there are checks and balances in our system of government.

From Teaching Tolerance: The Day After
This article provides some tangible things that teachers can do, both for ourselves and with our students, such as strengthening your classroom community, creating space for reflection, and discussing what respect means. This article outlines some “truths kids need to hear,” such as that it’s okay to feel big emotions, that our country is divided along many lines, and that voting matters, but not just voting.

From the Huffington Post: What Do We Tell the Children?
This article provides suggested responses to the fear felt by many children in our midst.  Tips for teachers include things like, “Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.”

From Teaching Tolerance: Let the Students Speak!
Use the hashtag #StudentsSpeak to share their advice to the new president.  A great modification that a 6th grade teacher at EMS used was to frame their writing as “hopes and dreams,” so messages had to be positive “do’s” instead of negative “don’ts.”
Refugee wellness guides: Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services has produced wellness guides to help professionals better understand the background of new populations. The most recent is a wellness guide about the Democratic Republic of Congo. GCJFC has completed wellness guides for Burma and Somalia as well. You can find them here: https://goo.gl/MI9JX5 
Currently, there are guides from

BURMA (July 2016)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (November 2016)

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF SOMALIA (March 2016)


Educators share knowledge:
 The best learning happens when people teach others what they know, and two teachers got the chance to do that recently. BSD EL educators Kim Fankhauser and Beth Evans both took part in presentations at Northern New England TESOL's annual conference in Gorham, ME, on Nov. 5.

Kim took part in a panel discussion called "Inquiry-based Professional Development: An Empowerment Model for ESL Teacher Development."  Beth co-presented "Exploring School-College Partnership for Mutual Learning." Both teachers worked with Raichle Farrelly, a St. Michael's College professor whose expertise to now has been in adult learning. ​



ESSA Toolkit:
TESOL has released a toolkit that tells educators how the new laws affect English Learners and how educators teach them. Curious? Download the document at this link.

Refugee numbers up: Fiscal year 2016 just ended for Vermont Refugee Resettlement. The group announced they ended the year at their highest number of arrivals since the program began: 386.
Nationally, there were 84,995 refugees admitted into the United States, the highest number in the past 15 years. Among them were 12,500 Syrians and 5,000 Bhutanese. The top five origin countries were Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. The top receiving states were California, Texas, New York, Michigan and Ohio.
President Obama has proposed accepting 110,000 refugees in Fiscal year 2017. Projected arrivals for Vermont are 350 in Chittenden County and 100 in Rutland County.


Personalizing instruction:Data driven instruction is one of the hot topics in education. Data displays whether ventures have been successful. To that end, BSD teachers of English Learners recently had an opportunity to learn about ELLevation, a tool that will help teachers track students over time and set individual goals.
This new platform will allow teachers to have better access to data that will help drive instruction, tailoring it to fit individual students' needs. 
ELLevation can also generate federally-required letters in students' home language, track testing accommodations for each student and provide a way to document monitoring after students have exited the program.
 
Refugee resettlement news: Fiscal year 2016 just ended for Vermont Refugee Resettlement. The group announced they ended the year at their highest number of arrivals since the program began: 386.
Nationally, there were 84,995 refugees admitted into the United States, the highest number in the past 15 years. Among them were 12,500 Syrians and 5,000 Bhutanese. The top five origin countries were Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. The top receiving states were California, Texas, New York, Michigan and Ohio.
President Obama has proposed accepting 110,000 refugees in Fiscal year 2017. Projected arrivals for Vermont are 350 in Chittenden County and 100 in Rutland County.



October 

Liaison trip: On Oct. 3, six BSD Multilingual Liaisons,  Multilingual Liaison Coordinator Nijaza Semic and EL Director Miriam Ehtesham-Cating visited the Multilingual and Multicultural Center of the Portland Public Schools in Portland, Maine. The visit included an extended question-and-answer session with the Center Director, all of the  Multilingual Parent and Community Specialists, and Maureen Clancy, the Language Access Coordinator for the Portland Public Schools, as well as a brief conversation with the superintendent. The conversation was exciting, as professionals with parallel responsibilities representing diverse cultures shared their experiences and opinions. We came away from the visit energized by the connections and full of ideas about things we might do in Burlington.

 

Here is a sampling of what we learned:

  • The student population of the Portland Public Schools is 33% language minority, and 20% identified as English Learners. Unlike Burlington, most are NOT newly-arrived refugees.

  • There is a dedicated Intake Coordinator for the district. Intake for new students is scheduled 3 days a week at a central location. (we now have a parallel system, with intake available 5 days a week!)

  • Whenever possible, beginning of school paperwork is completed at a back to school “fair” a few days before school begins.

  • All school placement in Portland is geographic for grades K-8. Students apply to high school programs.

  • After intake information is sent to the school the student will attend, the EL teacher and school staff schedule a “meet & greet” for the student’s first day.

  • There is no newcomer program in Portland, following the principle of full integration as soon as possible. However, many schools have bilingual educational techs (similar to paraeducators) who offer first language support. These positions are IN ADDITION TO the Multilingual Parent and Community Specialists, who serve roles very similar to Burlington’s Multilingual Liaisons.

  • The Portland Multilingual Parent and Community Specialists use an electronic HelpDesk system for ALL requests for outreach, parent contact, and interpreting or translation services, except emergencies. We are working on creating a similar system for the BSD - details to follow soon!

  • Multilingual Parent and Community Specialists in Portland offer professional learning for teachers AND for parents, selecting topics from lists identified by those groups.

  • In addition to the HelpDesk system, Multilingual Parent and Community Specialists use Google Calendars, Facebook, and What’sApp to maintain contact with parents and community. All this documentation means less report writing than what is currently required of BSD Multilingual Liaisons. This is another innovation we will definitely explore!

  • Very few EL students are retained at grade level, although there is a fifth year option for those who need more time to graduate. A program called Make It Happen offers support to EL students who want to go to college. Academic coaches who are community mentors or AmeriCorps volunteers connect with kids starting in 8th grade, and help to enhance their college profile (volunteer work, etc.) as well as supporting their academic work.

 

Altogether we found MANY areas of mutual interest with our colleagues in Portland, and came away with plenty of ideas, profound respect for our common work, and a feeling that we are by no means alone in the important work we do! We’ve extended an invitation to Portland to come visit us in Burlington, and hope they will do just that.

 
 
July 

VRRP news: Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program brings new English Language Learners to our school system each year. VRRP is anticipating more arrivals in the state this year. Here are the anticipated numbers:
--From Annual ​Consultations, 6/9/16, RISPNet via Amila Merdzanovic, VRRP
Last Updated: 4/21/17