The Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program originally began as a pilot project in 2007, and started as a partnership with SD76 at Southview Community School. The one SWIS worker was able to assist the newcomer school children and their parents to learn about and understand the school system, policies, and expectations. Due to the program’s success, it extended it’s services to Medicine Hat High School in 2008. By 2009, an expansion was planned for the SWIS program in response to the decentralization of ESL programming both within SD76 and the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education. The number of schools requiring extra support for newcomer children grew from 4 schools to 20 schools within the two disctricts.
There are currently 3 SWIS workers at SISA, one specializing in middle/high schools, and two for the elementary schools in Medicine Hat. The workers act as liaisons between the schools and newcomer families, and assist all parties with cultural awareness (from both sides), expectations, and focus on giving the students the tools needed to be successful in their new school and community.
SWIS assists New Canadians with:
- Understanding school policy and procedure
- School registration and orientation
- School transportation scheduling
- Communicating with educators
- Parent-teacher interviews
- Accessing school and community resources and services
- Provision of interpreter/translator when required
SWIS provide schools with:
- Cultural orientation and sensitivity training
- Links to cross-cultural information
- Small group workshops on specific cultural issues
- Cultural interpretation
- Consultation on school settlement issues