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The beginning of the school year offers a prime opportunity to establish a welcoming environment for all students. From the moment students walk into our schools, we begin building the trust necessary to forge relationships that support academic progress.
For English learners with varying linguistic and cultural backgrounds, the stakes are even higher. A lack of language proficiency may mask skills and passions, while differences in school culture may cause anxiety among newcomers. Given these very common circumstances, what steps can schools take in order to immediately establish that linguistic and cultural diversity are assets to be celebrated rather than challenges to be overcome?
We spoke with Maira Méndez Rodriguez of Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska about how her team has designed and implemented systems to foster a welcoming environment for a student body that collectively speaks over 30 different languages. As an Instructional Coordinator, Maira works closely with the ELL team made up of counselors, advocates, bilingual liaisons, teachers and other district staff to ensure all students have the support they need from the moment they arrive.
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