New ESL welcome center opens at Charlottesville school
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -– English as a Second Language, or ESL, has a new welcome center that just opened in Charlottesville.
ESL officials are excited about the center and say it is going to be a great resource for those who might have been struggling to adapt to a new area, especially if they don't speak English as their first language.
Charlottesville City Schools recently opened the center to help families and students. It's a "one-stop-shop" for those new to the area to register for school, submit documentation, complete language screening tests, and much more.
"Using this also as a way to build like some family engagement activities. And so, right now, we're getting the families to come here and we get to meet them and talk through things with them, and sort of welcome them to Charlottesville. But, in the future, we'd like to some maybe like literacy nights or different activities that they could come back to the same place, that they're familiar with now, and learn more," coordinator of instruction for ESL in Charlottesville, Jeannie Pfatuz said.
The center also provides kids with a "Welcome to Charlottesville" coloring book that helps children learn more about the city and all it has to offer. The book is currently offered in six languages provided by Charlottesville’s Free Book Bus.
The center also provides resources for both the families and the students.
The goal is to eventually have a space where everyone feels safe, engaged, and welcomed.
"We want them to learn how we do things here. Because a lot of times, it's very different from the relationships they've had with teachers at schools in their countries. So, we just want to be welcoming to and make sure that they know how we do things, and that we can support them as they adjust or integrate into our community,” ESL special councilor for K-12 at Charlottesville, Cherry Stewart said.
With roughly 600 ESL students currently, this center is looking to continue growing and helping both families and students connect to the school and the community.
The center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the division annex office at Charlottesville High School.