AMIGOS program returns to Roosevelt Middle School in New Bedford

AMIGOS program returns to Roosevelt Middle School in New Bedford

Bristol County Savings Bank (BCSB), through its Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation (BCSCF), recently presented a grant to the Immigrants' Assistance Center for $5,000 that will be used to finance the AMIGOS program at Roosevelt Middle School in New Bedford. IAC’s Executive Director Helena da Silva Hughes (fourth from left) from Foundation officials (from left) Michele Roberts, Koreen Santos, Patrick Murray, Dr. Jean MacCormack and Joseph Nauman.
Bristol County Savings Bank (BCSB), through its Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation (BCSCF), recently presented a grant to the Immigrants’ Assistance Center for $5,000 that will be used to finance the AMIGOS program at Roosevelt Middle School in New Bedford. IAC’s Executive Director Helena da Silva Hughes (fourth from left) from Foundation officials (from left) Michele Roberts, Koreen Santos, Patrick Murray, Dr. Jean MacCormack and Joseph Nauman.

A program that helps lower the language barrier between school staff and students and their immigrant families is back at Roosevelt Middle School.

Viewed as a success after it was piloted at the school in 2009, the AMIGOS program — A Multilingual International Guidance Outreach Service — was expanded to the high school in 2012 and to Hayden-McFadden in 2013, but ended up being slashed at Roosevelt due to lack of funding.

“We stayed there as long as we could because we knew there was a need, but we couldn’t work on a shoestring budget,” said Helena da Silva Hughes, executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center, whose employees staff the AMIGOS program by serving as linguistic bridges between the school and students and their immigrant families.

The IAC employees not only provide interpretation and translation when needed, but they also connect the students with outside services.

“The AMIGOS program is an important resource to our schools and we are thankful for the support of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center in providing these key services in New Bedford,” said New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Pia Durkin.

This article first appeared in ojornal.com – here (Posted by By Lurdes C. da Silva, O Jornal editor

A brainchild of Hughes, the AMIGOS project returned to Roosevelt this month after the Immigrants’ Assistance Center received a $5,000 grant from the Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation and an additional $2,400 through the School Department.
“Working with families is a huge part of a school’s job, and we greatly appreciate this program and everything it offers to us in being able to engage with our students’ families,” said Roosevelt Middle School Principal Daniel Bossolt.

According to the principal, about 20 percent of Roosevelt’s nearly 800 students are English Language Learners, and more than 100 families with children attending the school speak a language other than English.

“This is a great tool for us to be able to connect with our families,” Bossolt said. “It can sometimes be difficult for schools and families to communicate when there is a language barrier, and having an interpreter here at school to improve communication with our families is a tremendous help to us.”

Hughes maintains the AMIGOS project not only opens up communication channels, but also contributes to improve familial engagement in the schools and leads to better scholastic outcomes.

“It provides wrap-around care,” Hughes said. “There are issues that escalate that could be resolved if there were no language barriers.”

Hughes said the program is monitored, and it definitely has an impact.

“We found that kids become more engaged and school absenteeism decreases,” she said. “Even when children speak English, if their parents don’t, it can be difficult for them to advocate on their children’s behalf.”

Hughes said the $7,400 will be enough to place an IAC employee, who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Cape Verdean Creole, at Roosevelt Middle School on Monday and Tuesdays, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., through October.

“We’re always trying to find funding, and we’ll continue to look for more funds for this program,” she said.

This article first appeared in ojornal.com – here (Posted by By Lurdes C. da Silva, O Jornal editor

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