MISD discusses newcomer academy for growing, diverse population

MIDLAND COUNTY, TX (KWES) - As Midland ISD continues to become more diverse, district leaders have an idea to help students who come to the US for the first time ever.

"With 42 languages in the district now, we need to do something different," said Joanna Rowley, ELL Director for Midland ISD.

It's not the same Midland or even Midland ISD you used to know.

"We used to be a Spanish/English speaking community. As you go out there the grocery store has changed. You see all these different cultural foods that are now available and it's because our community has changed," said Rowley.

Because of it, because of all the languages, cultures and families coming to the district, leaders hope help comes in the form of a newcomer academy.

Midland ISD will soon be introducing the Liberty Lions.

"The goal of reaching a newcomer is to teach them English as quickly as possible in order to be successful, not only in our educational system but in our community, in the workforce, wherever they need to go," said Rowley.

Students who would go to Liberty Academy are first year students in the US from grades 2nd through 12th getting an education in English and other subjects, similar to learning in a regular classroom.

Lions have a deeper meaning to the name.

L stands for language.

"It takes a lot of extra manpower in order to get that classroom ready for that student to be successful," said Rowley.

I means instruction.

"You have to teach in a unique and specialized way to get that information across," said Rowley.

O for opportunity.

"Being in school should not be what's just in your community. It should be about getting our kids ready for college and career," said Rowley.

N stands for newcomers.

"Every year for the last five years about 125 students have arrived," said Rowley.

S  most importantly is the students.

"I really like the aspect of kids are really now starting feel what it's like live in a different country because they have different kids sitting in their classroom every day," said Rowley.

Midland ISD says they will use 2018-2019 as a planning year.

They hope to launch the newcomer academy in the fall of 2019-2020.

District officials say portable cities would be used to accommodate students and faculty.

Start up costs would be paid for by grants the district applies for.

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