The ASD-W Newcomer Support Centre and the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick recently hosted a stakeholders' forum to discuss current practices for creating welcoming schools for newcomer students and their families.
Five schools in the district were celebrated for their success in responding to the arrival of newcomer students. They were Gibson Neill Memorial Elementary School, Priestman Street Elementary School, Connaught Street Elementary School, George Street Middle School and Woodstock High School.
"These five schools have surpassed our expectations in terms of their creativity and collaboration as culturally-responsive leaders in ASD-W," said Shawna Allen-VanderToorn, subject coordinator for EAL (English as an Additional Language) and International Students Liaison. "We look forward to learning more from them as they continue to embark on their respective journeys in creating intercultural connections at their schools."
Through the establishment of Intercultural Connections Actions Teams, these five schools worked together to collect and examine data, reflect on current successes and opportunities for change, and plan next steps for school-based initiatives.
During the forum, the schools shared their innovative approaches for welcoming newcomers. This included orientation meetings for families, interviews with students sharing their experiences and ideas with teachers, inviting community members into schools to learn about the diversity within, English language learning opportunities to facilitate communication, peer mentoring by student leaders, community service and global awareness initiatives.
A team from Cambridge Narrows Community School took part in the forum as observers since research is currently being conducted at this school to prepare for demographic shifts that other communities are already experiencing.
Going forward, Allen-VanderToorn (shown in photo on far right) said the aim is to connect five additional schools with the inaugural teams in order to continue building leadership capacity for creating welcoming schools for newcomers across the district.
The Anglophone West School District officially opened its Newcomer Support Centre in Fredericton in 2016. Located at George Street Middle School in the downtown, the centre helps families with their transition to the New Brunswick school system, provides support for learners of English as an additional language, and promotes cultural diversity initiatives across its 69 schools.