Biddeford tries helping immigrants adapt to school system

"Biddeford Rising" launched

BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

A Maine community is trying a new approach to help children who can't speak English succeed in school.
It's called Biddeford Rising, and more than 100 people showed up for the meeting designed to get it going.
According to the city’s assistant superintendent, Chris Indorf, the number of children in the school system whose first language isn't English has quadrupled in recent years.

“It's an exceptional challenge to program for kids who come from 20 different countries that speak 22 different languages,” said Indorf.
Wednesday night’s meeting focused on the obstacles that come with moving to Biddeford as an immigrant in order to find solutions.

Immigrant families came to a city elementary school and met with school staff about challenges facing them.
With help from interpreters, lists of struggles were made.
Among them: how cold Maine is, that rents in the area are expensive,  making friends with Americans who only speak English is hard and that eating American food in school cafeterias can present problems because of cultural restrictions.

Despite those challenges, many people who attended the meetings thought they were a good step towards making meaningful change.  A follow-up meeting has already been scheduled for March.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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