Spokane immigrant and refugee students find lifeline in two WEA members
If you are high-school aged, newly-arrived to the United States, not speaking English and living in Spokane, Mandy Manning and Luisa Orellana are among the first people you meet. The two Spokane Education Association members make up the Newcomer Center at Ferris High School.
Their students are immigrants and refugees. They come from around the world and many end up in Spokane because they were forced to leave their home country. Manning and Orellana create a community that is welcoming, comfortable, loving and, above all, safe.
In a classroom where new students arrive constantly throughout the school year, the two must weave students aged 14 through 21 into their community, teach the newcomers English and meet them wherever they are in their education level. Orellana teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in the evenings and, often, finds she is working with the parents of many of her high school students. Manning and Orellana also make sure they visit every student in their new home to get to know their families.
Both Orellana and Manning say they gain a deep connection with the students as they watch them begin to assimilate into their new lives in the US. The vast majority of their former students stop in to visit every day after they are sent on to higher level English classes. Former students say they like show the new students the progress they’ve made as a result of the Newcomer Center and to offer encouragement.
The support and love the student receive is evident in what they say about Manning and Orellana. The students are able to get a solid grounding from their teachers at Ferris before moving on to pursue new dreams.
Manning is Washington’s states California Casualty Awardee for the 2017 NEA Foundation Award in Teaching Excellence.