S.F. school for immigrants offers soft landing to new kids in town

Above: Parents help kindergartners get ready for class on the
first day of school at the Mission Education Center.
Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle
The flow of children from Central America started hitting San Francisco schools in January, said Principal Debbie Molof. And over the summer they kept coming.

As the school year started on Monday, they filled Molof's classrooms at the Mission Education Center, a K-5 "newcomer" school for Spanish-speaking children who have recently arrived in the country.

The students came mostly from Honduras, but also El Salvador and Guatemala, with a handful from Mexico. Most of them arrived over the summer.

Veteran teacher Lilly Chow smiled as the nervous fourth- and fifth-graders filed quietly into her classroom and filled every seat.

Typically, Chow starts the school year with 12 to 15 students, with more arriving throughout the year.
"This year is different," she said. "For the first time in 27 years, I will start with more than 30."

The school offers a one- to two-year program to help the students learn English and catch up on academics they might have missed in their home countries. Then they transfer to other schools. The district also has a newcomer school for Chinese-speaking students.

These kids are among the 60,000 children who have entered the country in the past year from Latin America, often unaccompanied. Most are being placed in California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Read more at: www.sfusd.edu