Nah Tah Wahsh Public School Academy is a rural school located on the Potawatomi Reservation in the Upper Peninsula. Nah Tah Wahsh was founded in the 1970s to improve the high dropout rates among Potawatomi students by providing a schooling option that was closer to the reservation, and incorporating a deeper awareness and appreciation of the Potawatomi culture. Since opening its doors in 1976, the school has served a large number of Native American students, as well as non-Native students from outside of the reservation. Teachers and administrators alike describe Nah Tah Wahsh as a school that is deeply committed to fostering student academic success. Operating under this belief, the school has worked tirelessly to improve the learning opportunities for their students by offering a number of programs around early childhood education, as well as extracurricular and academic support activities. Additionally, Nah Tah Wahsh created a strong community-based school that fosters a sense of pride and belonging among students, their families and staff members.
At the beginning of every school year, Michigan educators go through the process of identifying students who are ELLs. At the end of every school year, educators across the state examine data to make decisions about whether or not students are ready to be exited from ELL status. The reason we go through this process of identifying and reclassifying ELLs is obvious—to ensure that students who are in the process of acquiring English proficiency have a meaningful opportunity to learn (OTL). However, the mechanics of ensuring OTL are much more complex.
In reality, there are five key aspects to ensuring OTL for ELLs. This quintessential quintet can help educators evaluate how well their schools are performing when it comes to providing ELLs with OTL. You can click on each of these five elements to explore how them and learn more about common errors that arise in schools.
"Classrooms are the ideal laboratory for helping young people develop persistence, resourcefulness, coping skills, optimism, and hardiness. We're wise to live in that laboratory – and our students are the better for it."
The United States has a long tradition of resettling refugees. Since the Refugee Act of 1980, 1.8 million refugees have come to live in the United States. Approximately 35 to 40 percent of these refugees are children (Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services, 2014), many of whom are also students in American public schools.
Schools with significant populations of ELLs in their communities face many different challenges as they think through how to bridge the school-community gap. Although making community connections is important for all schools, the language and cultural differences between educators and business and church leaders in these areas of high ELL concentrations can certainly make the task of reaching out daunting. Even challenges such as knowing who to contact can inhibit making those connections. However, examples of successful partnerships do exist here in Michigan.