By: Aaron Rangoonwala, AmeriCorps VISTA, Program Developer & Community Partnership Liaison at Wellstone International High School
I work at an ELL high school within the Minneapolis Public Schools that serves immigrant and refugee populations. I was raised in East Africa and then moved to Minnesota for university. In many ways the students that I work with are going through the exact transition I went through. The opportunity for me to empower them with the knowledge I gained is a life-giving experience. I have come to appreciate the pocket of culture, diversity and differences that Wellstone represents. This is a rare place where the sphere of education has opened up a safe space for the future leaders of tomorrow to engage the faces and issues of the world and understand how their unique perspectives can add tremendously to American society.
This year I started an afterschool tutoring program in conjunction with tutors from the YMCA. One third of Wellstone students were given access to the extra academic assistance they need to succeed as ELL learners. They have been gaining valuable exposure to native English language and culture which will allow them to navigate their new country as contributing citizens.
I am currently working on an initiative to develop Public Relations material that will serve to re-vamp the way Wellstone High School portrays itself to potential students and their surrounding community. This will allow the school access to more resources and community support and result in an increase in the school’s ability to better serve students of Minneapolis Public Schools.