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Mark Rangel’s reflection on starting a Newcomer Academy

February 7, 2012

Mark Rangel’s reflection on starting a Newcomer Academy

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Parent Community Involvement Committee meeting

I can say I was nervous and excited to start this journey provided to me by my superintendent and the Director of Federal Programs from Centennial BOCES. Creating, planning and building The Morgan County School District Migrant Education Newcomer Academy (MENA) has been an experience that I will remember for a lifetime. From the daily lessons I have learned from the students I get to work with, to the overwhelming support and assistance of all the community partners, to state refugee resources and the Colorado Department of Education (LCE office) that have provided guidance to our efforts, it has been a journey I am blessed to be on!

Whenever I think I am having a bad day or I am feeling down. I recall a story told to me by one of the students who has experienced more in her young life than I could ever imagine. Her story is one of fleeing her country to find safety in a refugee camp. As a seven year old waking up in the middle of the night looking up at a soldier who had a rifle pointed at her and her family, she has experiences I would never want. My student spent seven years in a refugee camp prior to coming to the United States. Her mother who still lives in the camp made sure her children were able to get out first. This past December, my student was heartbroken because she had received news that her mother was sick and she had no way to contact her. My life seems pretty good when I hear of their experiences. The students have taught me that even with the most difficult backgrounds and daily bias that they experience they are willing to move forward and learn each and every day.

I get to work with children from all over the world and I love each day that I get to see their smiling faces get off the bus and come into the Building to be greeted by myself and the teachers. This morning and afternoon ritual of sharing handshakes, fist pumps and hugs brings a sense of belonging and trust to our classroom daily.

In previous posts, I have identified the partners that have gone above and beyond to assist us at the Newcomer Academy. The most exciting news is that our partnerships continue to grow and we are able to provide relevant experiences to our students and families. We now have two doctoral students in counseling that are running groups within our district (thanks to the help of Jewish Family Services, University of Northern Colorado and Denver University). Next month, Christy Fitzpatrick from Colorado State University Extension program will provide a series of hands on science lessons for our students.

ImageI will continue to highlight the people and organizations that have been so giving with their time and expertise in future posts. I wanted to take a second and reflect on some of my lessons learned on this wonderful journey.

If you or the organization you work with are interested in visiting or developing a partnership please contact me. You can contact me by visiting one of my websites Mark Rangel or MENA

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