Rochester International Academy (RIA) has been named one of the top 5 schools in the country to provide services to newcomer students. The Center for Education Equity at the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium released
in response to needs voiced by principals, staff, resettlement organizations, and families. They understand the services needed for recently arrived immigrants to the United States, and given the number of immigrants and refugees over the past several years, newcomer students are found in classrooms all over the country.
In this report, RIA has been designated as a “bright spot” that offers promising and effective strategies for newcomers in K-12 classrooms. RIA is home to students in grades K-12, and the school provides cultural and academic transition for newly arrived English Language Learners. Currently RIA has more 370 students who speak 26 different languages, and they have come to Rochester from 30 different countries. RIA offers rigorous language instruction and interdisciplinary learning, and families and the community help lead this collaboration.
Not only is RIA a “bright spot” for its students, it was also recognized in this report for its efforts to recruit multilingual teachers. RIA has partnered with local colleges to expand and diversify its pool of well-qualified teachers.
RIA has also been recognized for helping English as a Second Language teachers to co-plan and co-teach to master effective instructional skills. Also, teachers study and examine the grammar and language patterns of students’ native languages to better understand common mistakes. RIA also relies on technology to support instruction. As an example, the school has a supplementary online curriculum known as
Imagine Learning and a 3D printer that is used for special projects.
RIA uses language coaches to help build cultural understanding and student success. These coaches or “liaisons” also conduct home visits to assist vulnerable families. The school also seeks to provide a positive climate and culture by focusing on cultural identity. As an example, RIA holds “peace circles” where students who speak the same native languages share concerns about identity and assimilation to a different culture. Restorative practices are also routinely found in the school.