Start of school year brings new space, more offerings for JCPS foreign language students

Updated: Aug. 15, 2018 at 12:50 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There will be big, exciting changes for some foreign language students when they take on the first day of school at Jefferson County Public Schools on Wednesday.

In previous years, Newcomer Academy students were spread out in three different schools. This year, they will have a building of their own.

The program is moving into the building that used to house Phoenix School of Discovery on Pulliam Drive.

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Before it was Phoenix School, it was Myers Middle School.

It has special meaning to Newcomer Principal Gwen Snow. She went to middle school there.

"It's coming full circle," Snow said. "The building is much smaller, of course. I think when you're younger everything seems really big."

On Wednesday, 350 foreign language students might see those endless possibilities, too, when they walk the halls on the first day of school.

"I am so excited," Snow said. "This has been a dream we've had as a school to have our own identity, our own building for the community and for our students and their families. So now we finally have that."

Snow said by having the students in the same place, they will feel more comfortable and it could be a smoother transition for them.

The program will have twice the amount of space it did before.

In May, Snow asked social studies teacher Sam Hundley to teach health and P.E. at the new school.

"Every single day since then, I've just been so excited for tomorrow to happen," Hundley said. "I just cannot wait."

Hundley said it was always her dream to share that activity with her students, but the program wasn't able to offer gym class until now.

In addition to athletics, students will have full access to a library in the building.

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"When you have those things to be excited for, the more you're involved in your school, the more you feel a part of it, the more you want to be there, and with our kids that's so important that we have a welcoming environment where they feel like this is theirs," Hundley said.

Most students are transferred to comprehensive schools after a year with the Newcomer program.

Even after they leave, Snow hopes the new building will always feel like home to the kids they meet Wednesday.

"Tomorrow is going to be like magic," Snow said. "It's going to be, for many students, the first day in a U.S. school -- so you can only imagine all of these dreams and ideals they have. They know that this is our place, so it's home. Students can come back home if they have questions or if they just want to reflect on where they started out."

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