District Focus: KPS

Kentwood Public Schools

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The general enrollment process for both GRPS and KPS is similar, however there are a few differences. As a reminder, I will be using the acronyms ‘NS’ for Neighborhood School and ‘CC’ for Cultural Center. A Neighborhood School refers to the school that is in closest geographic proximity to a refugee students’ home. A Cultural Center refers to the nearest school that offers ESL services.

Just like for any district, the Refugee Education Center receives a client’s referral from the resettlement agency and finds out, geographically and with NS and CC in mind, which school the child(ren) will attend. This registration process involves a lot of paperwork, which can be found on the KPS website in several different languages. 

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This is a screenshot of the language resources for Registration Packets that can be found on the Kentwood Public Schools website if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the webpage.

Yep – they’ve had these documents translated from English into Albanian, Saudi Arabian, Bosnian, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Swahili, Vietnamese, Nepali, Burmese, and Karen. Although I’m sure the translating process took a lot of time and work, this resource provides such an advantage for several parties: staff at the Refugee Education Center, teachers and administrators in KPS, of course the refugee students themselves, and perhaps most importantly, refugee students’ parents. In my opinion, this shows the schools openness toward students of many different cultures as well as “meets parents halfway” in terms of providing important paperwork in their home language. In remembering my last post about GRPS, my question then becomes: If KPS has these documents translated into all these languages, could the two districts communicate and share this information so that GRPS and all districts in the Grand Rapids area also have these resources available?

The first step in the enrollment process with KPS involves calling the NS, setting up an appointment, and then taking the student to the NS for an initial assessment. After that, the student and parents are sent to the CC for a school tour and orientation. For elementary students, this is Meadowlawn Elementary, for middle schoolers this is Crestwood and Valleywood Middle. This initial introduction, tour, and orientation has been found by REC staff to really be a key step in the integration of students and comfortability of parents in such foreign circumstances. Could not this idea and concept also be shared across districts? Another thing that makes the integration process run more smoothly in terms of linguistic preparation is the offering of ESL Math and ESL Science classes in many KPS schools. Students can be moved in and out of these classes based on proficiency. Now, not every student can be enrolled in the finite number of CCs within KPS, but what’s wonderful is that they don’t necessarily have to be in a CC to receive English language support, because every NS has an ESL teacher!

I know this post was brief, but I hope it got you thinking about what services are possible to help refugee families with the often uncomfortable and unfamiliar process of enrolling their children in an American school. I’ll now be shifting my research focus to gathering specific personal testimonials from both refugee students and parents to teachers and administrators, whose classrooms and schools enjoy the presence of refugee students. These testimonials can be found under the “Student Voice” and “Teacher Voice” tabs. Thanks for reading!

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