Two years ago, Spanish teacher Jon Sirois established a partnership with AMIGOS (A Multicultural International Guidance Outreach Service), an English language support program for students at Roosevelt Middle School in neighboring New Bedford. Tabor students began visiting the school weekly to build relationships and practice language skills with students there.
Now in its second year, our partnership with the AMIGOS program continues to evolve. One Spanish 4 class had so many questions about their new friends that teacher Mel Bride decided to create a curriculum around those questions.
“Their experiences at Roosevelt Middle School generated so many questions that we decided to wrap our trimester around answering some of these questions, using our local city as our classroom.”
How long have these students been in the U.S.?
What countries are they coming from?
What kind of education were they receiving in their home country?
How did the end up in New Bedford?
What do they like to do in their free time?
What’s the best way to teach English to middle schoolers?
Where will they go to high school?
Are they in danger if they are undocumented?
Through readings, interviews and site visits to schools and non-profits in New Bedford, students in Bride’s class have gained a more nuanced understanding of the context of educational opportunities (and challenges) for ELL (English Language Learners) students in this growing Gateway City. New Bedford boasts a combination of public, private and charter schools for its 12,000 students. Students visited Our Sisters’ School (a private, tuition-free school for middle school girls and alma mater of Savannah Leao ’19 who is in the class); Nativity Preparatory School (a similar school for boys, and alma mater of Tanner Rosa ’19, also in the class); and Alma del Mar a prek-8 charter school. To gain perspective on how these schools provide alternatives to the public schools, Bride invited Superintendent Thomas Anderson to come to Tabor and talk with her students. Anderson shared that supporting ELL students on both language acquisition and skill development is a priority for him.
Other site visits will include the youth engagement organization Youth Opportunities Unlimited, the Immigrants’ Assistance Center, and Community Economic Development Center (CEDC). Many Tabor students not in this specific Spanish class have also had the opportunity to participate in programs with these organizations thanks to our established partnerships with them.
Bride’s students will conclude the research portion of the class with a high-profile meeting with New Bedford Mayor Mitchell where they will ask him about his plans to continue to support students like their friends at Roosevelt Middle School so that they may thrive academically, socially, and eventually economically in New Bedford. The students’ final demonstration of learning will consist of drawing up plans for a new program or organization on their own, to include a budget, a board of directors, and ways they will measure impact. They will present their ideas to a panel of community members from New Bedford.
Pictured above are our students engaging in dialogue with Superintendent Thomas Anderson.