Migrant Family Night Holiday Celebration
The Wayne County Schools Migrant Education Program enjoyed one of the largest turnouts in the history of the program for the migrant family night holiday celebration held at the Wayne Theater on December 12th.
Approximately 100 people were in attendance to share in the program’s holiday cheer and hospitality. School administrators also solve a wealth of educational hurdles for migrant children on a daily basis.
“Our migrant population is starting to explode in Wayne County and regional and state officials are starting to realize this fact, as well. Our migrant education program, although new, is being used as an example throughout the state on how to meet the various needs of our migrant families and provide essential services,” said Wayne County Migrant Education Director, Brian Ford. Mr. Ford wears several hats for the school system serving also as Director of ESL, Title III, for over 140 EL students and over 250 Hispanic students in our district, District Grant Writer, World Language Specialist, and Board Chairman of the Wayne County Educational Foundation Inc. 501 C 3. The education foundation provides additional assistance to educational programs through grants that the school district would not be able to apply for otherwise.
“A common misconception is that students must be from another country or speak another language to qualify as migrant but this is not true. In fact we have both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking families in our Migrant Education Program including some families that moved from just across the county line, while others from another state and some from another country,” explained Ford. Migrant is not the same as ELL (English Language Learners) or ESL (English Second Language) programs. These are two separate federal programs. Migrant is Title l-C and ELL/ESL is Title lll both with quite different qualifying criteria. To qualify for the migrant program, three factors must be met: 1) The family must have moved to Wayne County from across county or state lines, 2) The move must have taken place within the last three years, and 3) The parent(s) must participate in qualifying agricultural work.
According to officials at the Regional Migrant Office, Wayne County’s Migrant Education Program is expected to expand from its currently enrolled 62 students to a projected 80-90 students by February 1st. Some of the students are from neighboring counties and states, while others are from as far away as Guatemala and Puerto Rico.
Ford attributes the success of these programs to the district’s philosophy of helping all children learn. “We have developed a reputation in our region for providing high quality services for our ELL and migrant populations and families are drawn to our school district because of the variety of supplemental services offered through our Migrant Education & ELL Programs and the quality education that our students receive”, explained Ford. Several migrant families have found employment at Cagle Keystone in neighboring Clinton County. Families’ relatives are being drawn to the community, in turn the Migrant and ELL educational programs will continue to grow and expand to meet the needs of students and families.
Ford wanted to share in the recent success of the Migrant Education Program with Wayne County High School Family Consumer Science Teacher Shannon Foster, who has such a big heart for our Migrant and ELL students in our community.
“Shannon Foster has assisted me over the last four years with college and career readiness and transition programs for our English Language Learner (ELL) students, and over the last two years Mrs. Foster has volunteered in assisting me with our new Migrant Education Program. I could not have done this without Shannon’s knowledge and expertise,” said Ford. “Our migrant students and families have come to know us both as the faces of the Migrant Education Program in Wayne County.”
Mr. Ford and Mrs. Shannon Foster are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to organizing and operating an efficient migrant education program that meets the needs of both our students and families while staying in compliance with state and federal guidelines. Both are also aware of local, regional, state and federal resources and grant funding that can be used to assist migrant students and their families and augment the Wayne County Migrant Education Program.
“Our district would also like to extend a special thank you to the Lowe’s Home Improvement Corporation and the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant Program for their generous grant donations and assistance in helping our school district to establish a headquarters for our Migrant Education Program in which we will be able to better serve our students and families”, said Ford. The Wayne County Migrant Education Center is located in the former Preschool / Early Childhood Center building which also houses the Cardinal Newcomer Academy which provides English language services to newly arriving middle and high school age students from Spanish-speaking countries.
For more information about the migrant program or services offered to students and families please contact Mr. Brian Ford at The Wayne County Migrant Education Center at 606-348-8484 or 606-348-0522.
Staff members posed with Santa. Left to right: Shannon Foster, Santa, Freeya Munsee, Brian Ford
As always, Santa was a popular fellow
Many gift bags were given away at the highly attended event
Children smiled with Santa
A peek inside of one of the gift bags