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'We are ready': Milwaukee Public Schools detail how they are preparing for Afghan students

Afghan students will arrive as soon as mid-October
fort mccoy
Posted at 5:09 PM, Oct 01, 2021

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Public School District is on standby to welcome an unknown number of Afghan students soon.

We learned on Thursdaythat the majority of the Afghan refugees staying at Fort McCoy are children.

MPS has more than 80 English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, and with the incoming influx of more students, the district said they're prepared to meet their needs.

Lorena Gueny is the Director of Bilingual Education at MPS, and said they could be getting Afghan students very soon.

"They told us mid-October to the end of October, but again that information keeps changing," Gueny said.

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As for hiring more teachers, she said that is still up in the air.

"It all depends on enrollment, and definitely the district always says if we need more teachers to educate our children, we will get them," Gueny said.

She added that they also have teachers who if need be, could be trained to teach these English learners.

MPS said once students arrive they will access where their level of English proficiency is at. The district didn't say how many teachers or translaters they have who speak Dari or Pashto.

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South Division High School ESL teacher Francisca Meraz said she enjoys teaching her students and said she learns from them every day.

"We have so much to learn from our students when we come into this, and we have to enter this with an open mind and an open heart," Meraz said.

MPS has already sent out a reference guide to teachers that explains how to interact with these students, and understand things like eye contact being minimal as their way of showing respect.

Gueny said the district is excited to welcome these students.

"We are ready to have them. We are not going to turn any student away. We embrace diversity," she said. "Principals have already offered and are making little packages to welcome them at the school."

Gueny said the reason why the district is so prepared is because they've welcomed students from diverse backgrounds before and they have a plan in place.

"My greatest hope is that they will be able to have a great education and a great experience," she said.

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