John Marshall Elementary School
1918 Lamont Street
Wausau Wisconsin 54403
EL Coach & Program Implementation Specialist
Wausau has a long history of welcoming Newcomers to our community, so when the ECDC, the Ethiopian Community Development Center, a new refugee resettlement agency, opened its doors in 2021, we fully embraced the families and students. Between the refugee resettlements and immigrant groups, Wausau has seen an increase in newcomer multilingual educational needs across the district. With a local population of newcomer students increasing faster than in previous years, the Wausau School District has decided to open an elementary Newcomer Center for students new to the country.
A student is considered a “newcomer” when they are new to the country for two or fewer years. Wausau may be the child’s first experience in a U.S. school, or they may join us via “secondary migration.” Secondary migration includes students and families that resettled elsewhere in the country prior to moving to Wausau. Families often resettle in one community but “migrate” to join family in another community.
The Newcomer Center aims to provide targeted instruction on the foundational skills that require additional time and teacher support. Many newcomer students have not attended school in the U.S. traditional sense. Additional challenges include learning to navigate a new country and language while using and accessing technology for instructional purposes for the first time. Due to civil and political unrest in their home countries, several of these students may have limited or interrupted formal schooling before their arrival in the District.
Last year, the Wausau School District welcomed students from Spanish-speaking countries such as Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, and Columbia, as well as the Philippines, Peru, Malawi, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Laos, India, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, and the Ukraine. Our students are diverse and from all over the world.