Newcomer Academy at Midland Schools

Sarah Snyder
Sarah Snyder

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Midland has become even more metropolitan as families decend on West Texas for the oil industry.  

As the families move in, Midland I.S.D. has created a new educational program to help their children transition. 

It's called the Newcomers Academy.

District leaders have designed the program to help students learn America's culture and language in a comfortable environment..

The first day of school can be a bit overwhelming, but especially for kids from as far away as China, India, and Latin America.

That's why the Midland Independent School District has created a brand new program to make getting an education a little easier and a little less scary. 

Students who have been in the States for less than two years are eligible and school leaders say so far so good.

"We've had some foreign exchange students from different countries, but we've never had so many from different countries," Betty Newman, Executive Director of Student and Scholar Development for M.I.S.D., said.

The West Texas oil boom is bringing in families from all over the world.

"We've had them from Burma, from China, from Central America, we have a little boy at the Elementary that's speaking Dutch," Newman said. "And so we don't want to just say, here we are, take our classes. We really want to give them the support they need through these teachers at the Newcomers Academy."

And Midland I.S.D. hopes to provide their children with an easy transition.

"Our goal for the Newcomer Academy is to acclimate these students to the United States, to help them with the English language, to give them some support," Newman said.

This new program is housed at San Jacinto Junior High, Lee Freshman, and Lee High School, and right now, there's almost 50 newcomer students.

"We're really trying to provide support, and not only help them with the language, but also getting acclimated to the United States," Newman said.

The students spend about two hours each day working with a teacher on English skills, then spend the rest of the day with other students.

"Math classes, science classes, maybe some P.E., health classes, maybe some computer classes, classes where we feel like they would understand what is going on," Newman said.

It's providing the students and teachers with a new perspective on other cultures.

"Some of the kids have been persecuted in their countries, so it's kind of interesting to hear those stories, and to know that that's not the case in Midland," Newman said. "It's been an education to us as well as us educating the child." 

One of the challenges for M.I.S.D. right now is finding enough teachers and people who can speak the many different languages. 

School officials tell us they hope to continue expanding this program. 

They've been learning from several larger School Districts like Dallas and Houston.