Pulaski County Schools Migrant Program Launches Special Library
December 21 – Students in Pulaski County weathered the worst of COVID-19 lockdowns by adapting to distance learning.
For migrant students in families who often follow the harvest for work, adapting – to new schools and communities – is a way of life. With the pandemic underway, these local community students are relying more than ever on the Pulaski County Schools’ Migrant Education Program to help them keep up with classroom work – and more.
The Migrant Education Program complements the educational needs of students with services such as tutoring, the provision of necessary school supplies (backpacks, binders, pencils, paper, etc.) and helps them track their growth as they grow. and as they progress through the district. The program is open to children (aged 3 to 21) of migrant workers crossing the district borders over a period of 36 months, or anyone under the age of 22 who works in the fields can be considered an out-of-school youth. (OSY).
“Migrant education has been around since the 1960s all over the United States,” said program coordinator Kayla Shumaker, adding that “migrant” is not necessarily synonymous with immigrant. “Migrant just means you move frequently … Our students move quite frequently due to farm work. “
The office – located on the Pulaski County School Board campus near North Main Street – has a donation / clothing closet to help families with other basic needs and this year program staff have expanded a library within its department.
“Our parents can come in and look at the clothes closet while their kids go to the library,” said Shumaker, adding that the room is equipped with toys and a dry-erase board for small children to play with. “They can also check out a book to take home.”
Shumaker noted that the books come in volumes in English and Spanish. There are also several copies of popular titles, in case more than one child at a time wants to view a particular book. The shelves are crammed with a wide variety of subjects, from fiction to textbooks, for all reading levels, from kindergarten to high school.
“We have bilingual resources for parents; we have resources for ACT, PSAT, scholarships; we have books on certification in a technology field if you don’t want to go to college,” Shumaker continued.
There are graphic novels for those who don’t like to read at all.
“They don’t see it as much like reading as watching a comic,” Shumaker said, “but they’re working on those skills.”
The library has been especially great for students who don’t yet speak English well, according to Shumaker, as trying to consult a book at school or even at the public library can be a challenge if no one is speaking. Spanish to help them.
“If they find us – or if we do find them – we have a library where students can come and consult books,” she said. “I am an avid reader, and if you can learn to read, you can learn to do anything.”
Guardians Katlyn Shepherd and Nichole Sharpe are also new to the Migrant Education Program this year.
“We have about 100 students in independent schools in Pulaski and Somerset,” Shumaker said. “They divide the schools and between them can see all of our students every week. It’s a big business.”
The Pulaski County Migrant Education Office is open weekdays from 8:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. when school is in session, although the program also offers a summer camp between each school year. If parents need help and the office is closed, they can reach Shumaker until 10 p.m. through the TalkingPoints language equity app.