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Back to Communications Home

District and community welcome Albany International Center

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 30, 2017) -- With the help of a translator, seventh-grader Ungwa Mnyomoelwa told an audience of more than 150 people on Wednesday that she was happy to be in America and attending the Albany International Center.

 

Ungwa (pictured speaking at right) is from Tanzania and spoke in her native Swahili at the ribbon-cutting for the center, the City School District of Albany’s new program for refugee and immigrant students. She’ll be one of almost 100 students in the program when school starts on Tuesday.

 

The Albany International Center is based at North Albany Academy and will serve students in grades 6-12 who are in the early stages of learning English.

 

To view more pictures from Wednesday's event, click here. (A Facebook account is not necessary to view this content. A window may display the text "To see more from Albany City Schools on Facebook, log in or create an account," but this can be dismissed by clicking "not now.")

 

"Many of our newcomer students have had their formal education interrupted because of strife in their own countries. Some have had no education at all. Others have had long stays in refugee camps; some have experienced violence and extreme loss. Many are just learning to speak English. The language barrier is their biggest obstacle to success in school and assimilation," said Superintendent Kaweeda Adams.

 

Swahili, one of 57 languages spoken by students in Albany public schools.

     

Adams also said that 1 in 8 Albany public school students is an immigrant or refugee, then cited a list of immigrants who have made Albany their home in the past four centuries. She welcomed newly and recently arrived students and families that attended the ceremony along with community members and elected officials.

 

Board of Education President Sue Adler remarked on the difficulty of learning subjects in a new language – particularly one as challenging as English.

 

“That’s why the intensive language support that Albany International Center will provide is so important. Giving students that foundation will help ensure that they understand what they’re hearing and reading in school,” Adler said.

 

Students in the program will receive specialized instruction in English as they gain academic skills in the core subjects of math, science, social studies and English language arts. High school students will earn credit for the courses they take.

 

The program also will provide emotional support services to students learning to assimilate to a new culture. When fully enrolled the program will serve about 175 students per year.

 

Albany International Center is considered a transitional program, with students expected to spend one to two years in the program. Once students strengthen their language skills, they’ll return to their assigned middle school or Albany High School.

 

Helping to celebrate Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting were Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, state Assemblyman John McDonald and state Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, along with school board members Sridar Chittur, Ph.D., Ellen Roach, Anne Savage and Vickie Smith.

 

They joined Ungwa in cutting the blue-and-white ribbon to mark the official start of the new program.

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves nearly 9,700 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

         
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