The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Staff helping new English speakers get comfortable into our community

Lucia Romero
Newcomer counselor Brian Meyers has a meeting with one of his students Pedro Zau. Meyers supports his students in every way he can.

Vietnam, China, Guatemala, Africa, Central and South America. These are some of the places where newcomer students come from. The newcomer program—known to some as the Portland International Scholars Academy (PISA)—is a program here and at Roosevelt High School for students who have moved to the United States recently. They study in school while learning English. 

With experience from working abroad in Asian and Central American countries, newcomer counselor Brian Meyers enjoys helping students from around the globe. 


“I’ve done work with students who were refugees within countries that have had a lot of traumatic things happen,” he said. “It’s a dear thing for me to support students that are coming here from around the world.”

A lot of countries don’t offer school beyond middle school and if they do, many require payment. 

“Arriving here, [newcomers are] often really, really grateful that they can get a free and quality education,” Meyers said. 

The newcomer program lasts for two years. These students get special classes, like newcomer math, which help them get high school credit while learning English in various subjects and contexts. 

“It almost always takes more than those first two years,” Meyers said. 

Students usually need more time to get certain requirements for English, so they stay in the program for longer.

Meyers explained that the challenge isn’t just learning the language, it’s also getting used to a new society and way of life. The change from one culture to another impacts students’ everyday actions. The students having support during the whole process helps them learn how to navigate life in the United States.

Counseling secretary Janna Holm feels that the newcomer program is very beneficial and she loves being able to meet and interact with students from all over the world.

“I love that we offer this program,” she said. “I think it makes it easier for the students who are immigrating to the U.S. to meet people, to get an education, and to be successful after high school.”

Holm registers newcomer students into the system and takes their previous transcripts and transfers them into our school system.

“I didn’t know about the program before I came here,” she said. “I am just super super excited that we have the program, and that I do get to be a part of it.” 

Gail Gamero works with newcomer students as a community agent. Gamero works in the student ambassador program, which gives students opportunities to earn credit and volunteer hours. 

“I think it’s beneficial, particularly with newcomer students, to have a peer who can speak in their first language and give them more that one-on-one support, in a student lens,” she said.

This program tends to be popular with newcomer students, since they transfer here more often.

Meyers is happy to welcome more newcomer students as the year goes on, until the spots fill up.

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Lucia Romero, Business Manager

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