ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Many who arrived in the Capital District seeking asylum brought school-aged children. Questions about their education loomed, and on Thursday, NEWS10 got some answers as the Mohonasen Central School District enrolled students.
Local volunteers showed up to help out on the last day that the district spent enrolling the 70 kids staying at Rotterdam’s Super 8 hotel. At a church nearby, parents enrolled children who took assessments meant to help the district better meet them where they are academically. In the coming weeks, educators will determine what model they’ll use to ensure students are being educated to New York State learning standards.
Assistant Superintendent Laurel Logan-King said she’s glad all the pieces are finally falling into place. “This truly has been a full community effort with the different churches that are involved, with the donations from the community,” she said. “Parents are showing up. It just has really been so incredibly heartwarming to see the outpouring of, truly, love.”
She said they initially had difficulties getting baseline data from DocGo, the company tasked with transporting and housing the migrants. But now, they’re in communication and coordinating with the company, and it’s happening with just enough time.
With school starting in less than a month, Logan-King said they’re under a time crunch. “It became an immediate need, so we continued to reach out,” she said. “New York City was very responsive and DocGo became very responsive and understood we are actually here for the families who are going to be enrolling in the fall.”
Born in El Salvador and brought to the U.S. as a child, Milvia Mendez is a Spanish teacher at Mohonasen High School. She said that she volunteered during her summer vacation because the situation hits close to home.
“When they called and reached out to me to volunteer, I said, ‘Absolutely,” she said. “I totally understand the struggles, especially with language. When you first come to a country like this as a child, it’s scary, because everything seems so much bigger. And just not being able to communicate is really a scary situation for any child.”
She said that she hopes to inspire the students with her own story. “It’s going to be difficult for you in the beginning, but you’re going to learn because you’re going to be motivated,” Mendez said. “You’re going to learn quickly because you’re still young.”
She said that people are grateful for the enrollment assistance and that the kids are excited to return to some sense of normalcy. “They’re really looking forward to getting started in school,” said Mendez. “They are, as children would be, excited to learn and get back to something that’s somewhat normal for them.”