Lynchburg schools launch service to assist families with limited English proficiency

Published: Jan. 21, 2020 at 5:40 PM EST
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Lynchburg has one of the fastest growing populations in our region, rising by more than 20 percent since the year 2000.

Many of the new families entering the city's neighborhoods speak languages other than English. For those with children, Karin Baker says the process of enrolling in school can be overwhelming.

"When the families come in, you can see this look of shock on their face. A little bit of culture shock," said Baker, who teaches English to those still trying to master the language and saw a need to help their families.

"Just being in an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar language can be a challenge for them," Baker said.

Around five percent of families with children in Lynchburg City Schools speak something other than English as their primary language.

"It's definitely a population we can serve better," Baker said.

Earlier this month Lynchburg City Schools launched a new welcome center for families with limited English.

Located inside Heritage High School, the facility is designed to help families navigate the enrollment process. Translators are available by teleconference to explain what documents are needed, like birth certificates, immunization forms and proof of physical examinations.

"Just being a warm welcome to them and providing assistance through the enrollment process has been helpful," said Baker.

Parents can find information at the welcome center about adult English classes and medical services, as well.

It's all designed to set students up for success in the school system, while helping their families feel more integrated in the community.

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