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International Students Receive Wraparound Care

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“Tens of thousands of students from foreign countries are enrolling in U.S. high schools, in most cases as a first step toward applying to U.S. colleges and universities,” reported USA Today in a  study conducted in 2013. Reportedly, most of those students are from China. And that was the case for our school, during the 2012-2013 school year,  when The King’s Academy hosted its first group of international students: a total of nine kids, exclusively from China. That first year, the school didn’t have many expectations, other than to do our very best to introduce our international students to both the American culture and everyday life, as well as to our rigorous curriculum. Since then, our school has continued to find innovative and insightful ways to provide certain enrichments to the international program and as a result, it has grown exponentially.

Now, in its fifth year, TKA’s International Program includes 59 students from 15 different countries, including the Bahamas, Brazil, Italy, Finland, China, and Vietnam. In the four completed years of the program, the faculty has learned quite a bit about how to maximize the experience of both the international students and the domestic students around them. The ultimate goal of the international program is to provide, “complete wraparound care for the students” said Bob Bender, Assistant Director of the International Program.

The program is focused on giving the international students a taste of American culture and everyday life, while providing an amazing education. The school does this by providing them with a home to help them prosper. The program has both host families and residential dormitories. Host families allow the students to live with a family in their own home, while in residential dormitories the students live in a house that’s provided by the school with a set of house parents who work full time to help them with everyday needs. These dorms also allow them to make friends with other international students while they are here.

As reported in the USA Today article, “In 2014, more than 73,000 international students enrolled in U.S. high schools, federal data show. About two thirds, nearly 49,000, received visas enabling them to pursue a U.S. high school diploma.” Some of our international students have gone on to American colleges after they have graduated from King’s. For those students, a U.S. higher education was their ultimate goal when they chose our school. “They’re looking at the college placement records of these schools, their SAT scores. They’re focused on those sorts of indicators and things that would prepare them well when they apply to colleges,” said Christine Farrugia, a researcher with the institute’s Center for Academic Mobility Research.

As the program grows, our school wants to try to keep the number of students low in order to keep the quality of their experiences high. “We’ve got some phenomenal kids,” said Bender, who is not the only one surprised by the students’ remarkable academic and all-around achievements, as well as the way they have been able to acclimate to our culture in very little time.  “I am amazed at their commitment to excellence,” added Mrs. Maritza Cosano Gomez, English and Journalism teacher. “I have a ninth grader in my English I class who I would describe as a silent giant. You know the type—doesn’t say much in class, only when asked. Gets A’s on every assignment because he listens, follows instructions, and maximizes his time and effort to do excellent work. Aside from that, I am fascinated by his excellent behavior and manners, by the way he treats others with absolute respect. Every day, as I dismiss my class, he comes to me not only to ensure he understood the assignment, but to confirm when it’s due and to learn what’s expected of him. That is music to any teacher’s ears.”

As teachers and other American students are interacting with the international program students in the classroom and after school, as they work together and perform in academic, sports, and fine arts extra curricular activities, it is evident that our international students’ lives are being enriched by experiencing our customs, as much as we are being enriched by their culture. And, in God’s economy, that is a good thing.

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The Student News Site of The King's Academy
International Students Receive Wraparound Care