Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district supporting 20 new Syrian students

20 students have arrived since September, with 16 in Nanaimo, two on Gabriola Island and two in Ladysmith

Twenty Syrian children are becoming acclimatized to Canada, says the Nanaimo school district.

Tim Davie, Nanaimo school district assistant superintendent, said 20 students have arrived since September, with 16 in Nanaimo, two on Gabriola Island and two in Ladysmith.

The district international education department assesses students, said Davie. The information is then passed on to Linnaea Wiseman, an English Language Learners’ teacher at Fairview Elementary School, where an introduction classroom is situated. Wiseman works with students on language acquisition, school readiness and introduces them to Canadian culture.

Wiseman said she’s worked with the 16 Nanaimo students, ranging from a kindergartener to a 15 year-old, and while they have school experience, English skills vary.

“They have good comprehension, obviously it takes a bit of time to be able to have the verbal output, but their comprehension, for some of them, is there. Others have very little English and so, it’s really starting from the bottom and working up and doing lots of oral language with them,” said Wiseman.

Two have moved on to attend school full time and in a few weeks’ time, four students will be moving on to their catchment schools, said Wiseman. She is also hoping a couple of high school students can also move on fairly quickly.

The Province of B.C. committed additional funding to school districts for Syrian students enrolled in schools after Feb. 12, with a basic rate of $1,790 per full-time equivalent student.

An additional $345 per full-time equivalent will be available for students that qualify for English/French language learning, said a letter from the province.

“There are different funding counts throughout the year, so students that are arriving after the February funding count will be eligible for the May count,” said Davie. “That’s an amendment the ministry has made so the districts can apply for funding.”