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English Learner and Migrant Summer Programs Supporting Students

The summer programs’ curriculum and instruction targeting English learner (EL) and migrant students do not follow textbooks because both aspects change every year according to the unique needs that these students present to teachers, administrators, liaisons, and EL support personnel. Every year, access to English language development standards and content area knowledge is woven through themes that are relevant to students’ ages and cultures so they can work on hands-on projects with tangible applications.

The blending of technology skills is another structural element added to the daily lessons to ensure that these students are able to take full advantage of the tech tools our schools provide. Addressing the math area gaps of K-8 students is also part of the fabric of these summer programs.

This responsive model of instruction has been recognized by the Santa Clara County Office of Education two years in a row as a District best practice during the Multilingual Learners Advocacy Month which is celebrated in April. Santa Clara Unified has also been awarded recognition for our district’s Seal of Biliteracy Awards and the My Name, My Identity resolution — both promoting multilingual literacy and pride districtwide.

The vast differences in life experiences, education, and socio-economic levels of these student populations present a complex landscape for our district to provide meaningful support services that address all the dimensions of the whole-child. Taking the time to interview these students in order to understand their challenges and contributions is another signature practice of the EL Services department in order to coordinate services among different offices within our district and with community/county programs. This year, we also opened our programs to foster children and homeless students.

This summer, a student called Vitalino arrived with his family from Guatemala and participated in the Summer Academy for EL and migrant students. His native language is Ch'orti' — sometimes called Chorti — a Mayan Language spoken by the indigenous people known as the Ch'orti' Maya. Vitalino and his father take care of two younger children and navigate their day-to-day dealings with school and community through their ability to speak Spanish as a second language.

Even though he is a Spanish speaker, Vitalino is not able to read or write Spanish with fluency and, after not completing middle school in Guatemala, he is now devoting most of his school day to learning English as a third language. Under our summer high school theme of career exploration, Vitalino now has a graduation goal and a firm interest in becoming a construction apprentice after finishing high school. His questions about timelines for getting his diploma and how he will accomplish his goal were documented by his school counselor this summer and will continue to be addressed as the articulation between summer and regular year programs go on year-round through counselors, EL support staff, liaisons, and administrators.

Besides Vitalino, this summer we prioritized services to newcomer students from India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Brazil, Bosnia, and Burma among other countries.