The Newcomer program was brought to Bay County in 2009 through a special grant catered to recently arrived immigrants.
The program is the only one of it's kinds in Bay County, allowing students to have hyper immersion in the English language for a class period before sending them to their other classes.
The current students hail from countries all over the world ranging from El Salvador and India to Mexico and Russia. However, the most difficult issue the students face isn't just learning the language itself.
"You can learn two years of Spanish, but when you go to the foreign country you may be to be a tourist," says Newcomer program instructor Ana Montero-Marrero, "but being handed a book, an academic book, and saying okay--accomplish this chapter, that's a little bit tougher." Montero-Marrero says that it takes 6 years before a student is academically proficient in the English language.
Currently there are 14 students enrolled in the class where 6 different languages are spoken. The program is now funded by the school board as superintendent Bill Husfelt feels that as the population of international students rises, our ability to help them acclimate to the country needs to rise with them.