The Newcomer Learning Academy (NLA) is a four-year program for students aged 14-20 who have arrived in the United States within the past year. At its core, it is an accelerated and intensive course of English language study. NLA provides extra support for students who have gaps in their formal education.
In addition, NLA staff foster a nurturing school environment to help students adjust to their new school in a new country. Students take class trips that introduce them to the city’s historic and contemporary sites and get practical life lessons, like how to negotiate the bus and train system. All NLA staff have cultural sensitivity and trauma awareness training.
Students at NLA must complete School District of Philadelphia requirements for high school students. In order to support students as they learn English with high school content courses, teachers build on students’ language, cultural, and academic assets to increase their mastery of content knowledge.
The NLA aims to:
- Provide a safe and welcoming environment
- Integrate students into school culture and life
- Recognize, value and build upon immigrant students’ home cultures and linguistic backgrounds, as well as academic skills acquired in the home country as capital for learning
- Meet students’ academic and social needs
- Enhance literacy, academic, social and communication skills
- Provide instruction in a sheltered environment specifically designed for newcomers that integrates language, literacy, content, and analytical skills and practices
- Ensure success by providing adequate support services including community partnerships, Bilingual Counseling Assistants (BCAs), and counseling support
- Enable high school-aged ELs to meet grade promotion and graduation requirements and prepare and provide support for college and / or career exploration and application processes
- Provide extra learning time through after-school and/or vacation institutes