By Trisha Powell Crain | AL.com
When Rashid Beisenov moved his young family from Kazakhstan to take a job in north Alabama three and half years ago, his children spoke only their native Russian language. On the advice of a family friend, they settled in Madison and enrolled their two oldest children in the city school system.
In the summer of 2018, his children — a son in second grade and a daughter in first grade — were invited to the district’s revamped summer learning program for English language learners. Beisenov’s family speaks Russian at home.
He enrolled them in the program, hoping they could work on their English without sacrificing time spent speaking their native language at home.
It proved to be a great experience for everyone.
“Every day was a holiday,” he said, “with all of these fun activities that they were offered.”
Connecting with other students in similar circumstances is valuable, according to the National Summer Learning Association’s Brodrick Clarke.
“There’s value in them coming together, still having the opportunity to celebrate their cultural traditions and being able to see themselves in the others around them,” he said.