English learners find their place in ASD summer program

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Children from all around the world are finding a place at the Academic English Learners Program Chugach Optional Elementary in Anchorage.

The program is in its fifth year and there are 300 Anchorage School District students participating.

"So some of them are new to the country, refugees, immigrants,” said principal Clare Hill. "Each child is bringing in language and traditions and culture, perspective, they’re learning a lot through teachers, but they are also learning a lot from each other as well."

The students work on core academics through hands-on, project-based learning. The program also partners with businesses to give students a holistic experience.

“It’s a great opportunity for them,” Patti Blake, a first and second-grade teacher at the summer program. “Students have a chance to share their cultures and everything is valued.”

The faculty at the school work hard to make sure all of the students feel like they have a place. When they walk through the front doors, a bulletin board displays a photo of each of the 300 students.

"As part of having out children feel really connected,” Hill said.

Over 100 languages are spoken in the Anchorage School District.

“That means we have a very diverse population and there are unique challenges that come along with that so the teachers need to have certain skill sets,” Hill said. “Kids are better off having those experiences, meeting children who are different from them.”

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