Local News


Schools rising to challenge of teaching refugees

Posted at 5:57 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 21:58:54-04
Imagine coming to a new land seemingly overnight.
You don't speak the language, wear the same clothes or eat the same foods.
Every year, a growing number of African refugees flee to Las Vegas for a new start, and it creates a unique set of challenges for teachers.
William E. Snyder Elementary School has nearly 60 refugees in its classrooms.
They come from Congo, Namibia and many other countries.
They speak Swahili and French, but never English before coming here.
"Thank God for the technology because we had to rely on that to help us with the translations," said Dave Morris, a fifth-grade teacher at Snyder.
Morris has three refugees in his class.
Google Translate has become like a trusty teacher's aide to him. He types in English and the app speaks out loud in whatever language he chooses.
Morris says he's needed it less and less as the year has gone on.
"They were only reading one to two words and now they're reading about 20 to 30 words so that's a huge growth considering they had no idea what English language was," he said.
School is a real joy for these children. They don't take it for granted since many of them have spent significant time in refugee camps.
Here, they know their future's brighter than it's ever been.
"These parents, they want a better life for their kids," said Jenne Haynal, Snyder's principal. "They want a peaceful life."
The school will face a new challenge this fall when a large group of refugees from Syria is expected to enroll.