CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – As staff in the Maryvale Union Free School District welcomes students back into its classrooms Tuesday morning, teachers are also saying hello to nearly 70 migrant children who came to Cheektowaga from New York City over the summer.
Susan Sokolowski is one of seven full-time ‘English as a New Language’ teachers in the district. She tells News 4 that they have brought on an additional part-time teacher to help out.
“We have resources,” she said. “But we haven’t had an influx of this size at this one particular time before. So it’s going to be an adjustment.”
Included on the team: two teachers who work in the district’s primary school, two who work in the intermediate school, and the remaining four in the middle and high schools.
While the first day of class is Tuesday, it won’t be the first time Sokolowski and her colleagues are meeting the new students and their families. She says staff, including ENL teachers, nurses, central office staff, and social workers, visited them in their hotel about a week and a half ago.
“I think that’s the first step, making them feel like they’re in a place where their needs are going to be taken care of and they don’t have to panic about where their children are going to be. We can make that connection,” Sokolowski said.
“There are so many unknowns for the schools, the community, and also the families,” she added. “They don’t know what school looks like here.”
Additional asylum seeking children are expected to attend Sweet Home schools. Their first day is Wednesday.
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Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.