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Rock Island School District adapts to growing diversity in schools

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois-- In Ms. Rebecca Morley's class the world map you see hanging in her room represents the diverse backgrounds of her students, who are learning English as a second language.

Rock Island schools has seen a dramatic increase in the number of immigrant and refugee  students in its classrooms, thanks to the district's partnership with the World Relief.

In the last decade the district has gone from serving 87 students learning English to serving 636 students, representing 40 countries at the end of  the 2016 school year.

"For many years Spanish was the main second language that was spoken by our students," says Morley.

Now most of her students are from Thailand and Burma.

English Language Learner Program Director La'Shante  Williams says the hardest part about the rapid diversity growth in the schools is finding a translator for every language now spoken in Rock Island schools.

"The language barrier s there and when you don't share the same language its hard to get information across to the parents," says Williams.

But it's more than the international students who benefit the program.

" A lot of these kids come from places that a lot of our native English speakers only read about so you have first hand resources right there in the classrooms," says Williams.