Camelot Education’s Rubino Academy Launches English as a Second Language Program

 In Camelot Blog

As part of Camelot Education’s commitment to the academic achievement, social, and life success of the nation’s most vulnerable students, Rubino Academy has launched an English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

Antoinette Gomes, executive director of Rubino Academy, said that the program will help accelerate the learning potential of the many students in the nine districts served by Rubino Academy who speak little to no English – many of whom are immigrants from Central American nations. Rubino Academy is partnering with Trenton Global Academy, a Trenton School District initiative that helps newly immigrated students engage in academics while supporting their English-language proficiency.

“After hiring an ESL teacher with extensive experience, we launched the program at the beginning of the month, and two of our students are involved so far,” she said. “We expect the ESL program to quickly expand and eventually serve students in the other eight Mercer County School districts as well as Trenton.”

After seeing a need for additional support for Spanish speaking students who are behind in their credits, two assistant school superintendents in Trenton approached Gomes at Rubino Academy and asked for her help starting the program.  “Fifty-two percent of the students in the Trenton School District are Hispanic, and there’s a fairly constant migration of students who speak only Spanish. Some are from rural areas; others are from urban areas, and many have education gaps. There’s a real need for this program.”

Rubino Academy is a school-of-choice serving nine districts in central New Jersey whose students who have not experienced academic success at their traditional high school. The school provides a comprehensive program for students in grades 9-12, including credit recovery and an accelerated path to graduation. Gomes went on to say that it’s too soon to predict how many students will eventually participate in the in-house Rubino ESL program but said it offers an additional resource that partnering school districts didn’t previously have.

“There are between 400-to-600 Spanish speaking students in the Trenton School District, and a certain percentage of them will need our services,” she said. “One thing is certain; many of our public schools are in traditionally underserved communities, where business investment, resources, and opportunities are often limited, and where students grapple with issues of violence, trauma, and insecurity. These issues may be even more complex with immigrant children who are coming to us from nations that have experienced a great deal of political and social instability. But these are areas that Camelot specializes in; we’re experts at creating safe, secure, and stable schools for our most vulnerable children to learn and succeed. Some of our students will have behavioral issues, and our intent is to help them improve their social skills and learn the English language so they can also catch up academically.”

Henry Krzeczkowski, principal of Rubino Academy, said the ESL program will work within the structural guidelines of the local districts and will be of great benefit to their public school district partners.

“Our entire approach to education centers on whole-child support for our students. We understand that before learning can happen, we must ensure the fundamental needs of our students are met,” he said.

Camelot Education specializes in a social-emotional learning-centered school design model. The work focuses on helping school districts support students who are grappling with societal insecurity. Often these students struggle to engage successfully in school or have already disengaged from the educational process.

“We serve students who haven’t been successful in their home schools. In order to help them succeed, we have to dig beneath the surface to determine what their special needs might be, and communication is a big part of understanding,” Gomes said. “We’re really looking forward to growing this ESL program.”

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