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Individualized Support and Rapid Growth for Multilingual Learners

Date Published: March 25, 2024

Author: Brooke Charter Schools

McClain Powell has been working at Brooke Charter Schools, a network educating 2,200 Kindergarten through 12th grade students across four Boston campuses, for 11 years. After teaching the first and second grades, McClain decided to specialize in order to better support the network’s growing multilingual population as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. Now, she serves as Director of the English Language Development Program for Multilingual Learners, both teaching and helping to manage the network’s multilingual program.

McClain points to the network’s emphasis on immediate support, treating every student as an individual, and collaboration amongst adults as keys to achieving success for all kids.

Incoming Brooke Charter Schools students are screened so the network can understand each child’s personal English proficiency level and rapidly implement supports tailored to that student’s language ability. Brooke uses an inclusion-based model to ensure each multilingual learner benefits from the scaffolding they need – whether in the classroom, in a small group setting, or one-on-one – while experiencing all the same learning opportunities as their peers.

The Brooke team believes deeply in the research-proven approach of holding the same high academic expectations for all students and providing the services, adapted to the individual child’s grade level and full spectrum of needs, that enable students to meet those expectations. On the most recent ACCESS for ELLs, an annual assessment of English Language Learners’ proficiency, 60% of Brooke students tested as “making progress” as compared to 38% of students statewide.

The Multilingual Learner team plays a pivotal role in students’ English language development, but supporting kids is truly a team effort amongst Brooke staff. School leadership knows every student, and the classroom teachers, Multilingual Learner coordinators, and Special Education teachers collaborate to ensure a comprehensive understanding of each student’s needs and implementation of their education plan.

Collaboration with families is also critical. Multilingual Learner Coordinators are paired with individual students for years and develop a deep relationship with those students and their families. Brooke Charter Schools ensures family communications are translated and meetings with families are supported by Google Voice translation or multilingual staff. McClain shared that families appreciate the close communication with a dedicated point person and are so appreciative of the rapid growth they see their children achieve with the school’s extra support.

The team at Brooke strives to continuously improve and grow on behalf of the students served. In recent years, Brooke has implemented THRIVE (Together, Helping to Reach Individual Visions of Excellence), a sub-separate program for students with more significant special education needs. Many of the THRIVE students are also multilingual learners, and some of the THRIVE teachers have become certified ESL teachers; McCLain explains the dual certification is unique and incredibly valuable as it allows these teachers to support their students’ needs holistically.

Looking forward, the Brooke team plans to continue to deepen family involvement and offer more events for multilingual families, now that COVID constraints have eased, as well as grow and optimize the Program for Multilingual Learners in response to the needs of their students.