Orlando Principal Committed to Helping Immigrant Students

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County Public Schools principal is doing all she can to accommodate her students who came from different countries, several of them from Venezuela, so they can succeed in the classroom.

  • Principal Aleli Vazquez wants students from other countries to succeed
  • She makes sure they have the food, supplies, clothes they need
  • Also implemented Second Step Social emotional learning curriculum
  • More Orange County headlines

Meadow Woods Elementary School Principal Aleli Vazquez tells every parent who brings their child to her school not to worry.

“You’re in good hands,” Vazquez said. “We know you have a lot to worry about, so we’re here to take care of your child.”

It’s something she said to the parents of fifth grader Maria Hernandez, 11. Maria arrived in the U.S. from Venezuela last August. At first, she only knew how to say simple phrases in English like ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ Now, Maria is fluent but still speaks in Spanish to feel more at home.

“I felt good (when I arrived at Meadow Woods Elementary) because my principal and teacher spoke Spanish,” Maria said. “They told me everyone here is family.”

There is ESL staff at the school to help Spanish-speakers like Maria.

Vazquez also ensures every student has food on their plate and all the supplies they need. There is a food bank at the school and community leaders donate clothes, shoes, and school supplies for the children. She also implemented Second Step Social emotional learning curriculum to help students who suffer from PTSD after leaving their homelands.

It’s helped Vazquez achieve one of the highest awards the school can offer: the Spirit of Excellence.

“I was happy and feel that I worked hard to win that,” she said.

Principal Vazquez also sits down to eat with the children and their parents. She said it is a way for new community members to get to know school staff and their neighbors.

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