Decatur school wins grant to help immigrants become teachers

A charter school in Decatur has been awarded a $10,000 grant for a program that helps immigrants in the community pursue teaching careers.

According to a press release from Building Hope, a nonprofit that “helps to increase educational opportunities for K-12 students in charter schools,” the International Community School in Decatur was named as one of 12 finalists across the country for the nonprofit’s annual IMPACT Awards.

The International Community School was selected from approximately 260 applications from schools in 38 states, stated the news release. Officials from the school shared a 10-minute presentation and learned their grant award amount during Building Hope’s second annual IMPACT Summit, which took place May 3 and May 4 in Miami.

The school ultimately won one of two $10,000 grants in the community engagement category.

“The International Community School is a K-5 charter school that serves students who speak over 25 languages and has become a hub for its local population with translation services and a food co-op,” stated Building Hope officials. “Their program for new immigrants to build their skills and provide them an opportunity to become full-time teacher assistants and eventually grow into certified teachers is helping solve the teacher shortage while providing their students with a richly diverse educational program.”

Through a new pilot teaching program launched earlier this year, the school is working with the Refugee Women’s Network to provide employment opportunities for people within the community, mainly immigrants and refugees wanting to rebuild their careers, according to Fran Carroll, interim executive director of the International Community School.

“Through the program, refugee women are able to assist in the classroom while working on their teacher certification,” said Carroll. “By next fall, they will be co-teachers, and within two years, they will be ready to teach in their own classrooms.”

Carroll stated that another benefit to the school is that teachers-in-training come from the same countries as many of the students at the International Community School and speak the same languages.

“Representation matters, and the teachers have become trusted advocates for their students,” she said. “They are valuable role models for our young students who may also be starting over in a new place.”

Carroll said the grant money will be used to support the work of the school’s Community Resource Center (CRC).

“With a mission to enhance the self-sufficiency and wellbeing of families, the CRC focuses on parent engagement and referral to external resources,” states the school’s website. “The CRC provides health clinics, a food co-op, baby supplies and clothing for all ages, as well as workshops about technology literacy, financial literacy, and first-time home ownership.”

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