North Colonie welcomes children of asylum seekers

North Colonie Central School District say they’ve enrolled 41 children of asylum seeking families.

The District’s new supervisor for World Language And ENL, Dr. Trini Hernandez says it can be intimidating for students whose first language isn’t English. “I speak Spanish as my first language so it was an adjustment knowing new cultures, learning new way of doing things, she said. I think I have now all of that experience that I can bring to the table to be able to help our families and our children in the school.”

Dr. Hernandez says North Colonie has an experienced team of 25 ENL teachers who work inside the classroom to help support the content teacher’s curriculum. South Gate Elementary ENL Teacher Jennifer Samaniuk says she looks forward to the unique learning experiences her new students will bring. “When you watch a student who perhaps has very little English, interacting with native English speakers and them be able to participate on par with a native English speaker and solve the problem together and watching them work, that’s when you see the benefit of an ENL program,” said Samaniuk.

North Colonie has over 550 students enrolled in their ENL program with children who speak over 50 languages. Mrs. Samaniuk says the program has grown really fast over the last decade. “North Colonie has incredibly prepared and experienced staff in English is a new language. We’re here and we’re ready to educate all of these students,” said Samaniuk.

The district says student’s in their ENL program make up about 10 percent of North Colonie’s student population.