Photographer Sam Cary
The academy is presented with the task of teaching immigrants, refugees and all ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students the English language and culture. To do this, many elementary teachers use visuals, speak slowly and pull small groups, among other things. Students must also go through transition lessons to prepare for their next school which includes small tasks, such as opening a lock for a locker or learning to enter lunch numbers into a computer. Many of these daily tasks for American students must be learned by the Nahed Chapman New American Academy students as a lot of the students haven’t worked with numbers before.
Regardless of some students having little schooling, they have the same graduation requirements on top of three English classes and transition lessons. Even with all these classes, students may only stay two years at the academy before having to integrate into American public schools, and with a constant increase in students, the time cannot be extended.
Within these two years, students must undergo a complete transition including learning about proper hygiene, riding busses and making friends.
“Our students are every bit as capable as every other student in this country,” assistant principal Brandon Clay said. “They have all the abilities to succeed. They have the capabilities to do what everyone else in America can do and I think that that is vital that every single person knows that here.”