By Jean A. Flanagan
Dawnelle Lininger has a student she fondly refers to as “a runner.” He doesn’t know he’s supposed to sit in his seat in her second-grade classroom. He’s from Vietnam and doesn’t speak English.
Last year Rachel Rumer had a student who was fascinated with the sink in the classroom. She had come from a refugee camp and had never seen running water.
Of the 432 students at Moorefield Elementary School this year, 56 are from foreign countries. There are eight languages represented, Spanish, French, Malayalam, Creole, Vietnamese, Burmese, Amharic and Tigrigna. Amharic and Tigrigna are Ethiopian dialects. Most of the students know little or no English and virtually all of them are unfamiliar with American culture.
The situation is a double-edged sword. It is challenging for classroom teachers, but also extremely rewarding and enlightening.
According to MES Principal Wade Armentrout, new students are assigned grade levels primarily based on their age. “Sometimes we have records from a previous school,” he said.