by George J Elbaum
Seattle World School (SWS) is Seattle Public Schools’ culturally and linguistically diverse high school for newcomer secondary students. It is one of only a few schools in the country designed as a preliminary entry point for immigrant children in their quest for academic achievement and full participation in American society. SWS students thus have limited language skills (intermediate ELL level) and most have been in the U.S. for 2 years or less.
Since its students and their families have special needs, SWS has a specialized on-site health center, enrollment center, and family support center. Families are supported to participate in their student’s education and reinforce their academic success. All students have access to extended day academic programs and tutoring six days a week. Volunteers from all over Seattle make these programs possible. Community agencies also work as partners with the school, providing academic support and bolstering the school’s emphasis on multicultural awareness and respect.
Holly Cotton, SWS Language Arts teacher, organized my presentation to her 30 students. The students’ limited English became apparent when, part way into my talk, I started reading a page from my book, so Holly asked them if seeing my text on the screen would help them follow my reading. She was prepared for their resounding “Yes!” as she had an overhead projector prepared, anticipating this difficulty. With me reading and Holly marking my place on the page as seen on the screen, we successfully continued reading and eventually concluded the talk.
Arrangements for my visit to SWS were made by Julie Thompson, Education Associate, Holocaust Center for Humanity.