EL Learners gather in Rochester for hands-on event

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Rochester Public Schools English Language Learners, or EL Learners, got a chance to learn more about math and science in a fun, interactive way Thursday night.

EL learners are a large part of RPS’ student body, and at Thursday’s stem event, which took place at Willow Creek Middle School, they got a hands-on learning experience with the help of staff, parents, and fellow RPS students.

EL learners make up around 10-percent of the RPS student body, that is nearly 18-hundred students.

For many of them, fitting into an English school comes with challenges.

“The language barrier, that’s the most challenging that it gets. They don’t understand the concept of what the teachers are teaching,” RPS Paraprofessional and Parent Halimo Hussein said.

“The first challenge is language, you know, you’re trying to adapt to this culture,” RPS Bilingual Specialist Fadumo Hersi said.

Hersi originally came to this country as a Somali refugee and has taught as a bilingual specialist at RPS for the last 20 years.

She says that her students share one big thing in common.

“They’re coming from a different place,” she said.

Events like these help make them feel more at home, for the students.

“It’s really amazing to have those experiences and coming and belonging in a community,” Hersi said.

As for the parents...

“I, myself was an EL student, and I know how important that was for me, just being in EL, having a teacher to kind of help encourage me,” parent Massah Akol said.

At the event Thursday, EL learners went from station to station, with interactive science and math projects.

They were helped out by several high school students volunteering.

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