Samuel Lavi knew he’d have to find unique ways to stay connected to refugee families when the coronavirus pandemic shut down Valencia Newcomer School. Parents and students speak more than a dozen languages, and they’d need help navigating the technology around remote learning.
So the gregarious teaching assistant, himself a Congolese refugee, created group chats on the WhatsApp messaging app in Swahili and some of the other six languages he knows. To ensure parents who can’t read or write could participate, Lavi taught them to record and share small audio clips.
With remote classes now underway at the K-8 school for refugee children in Phoenix, Lavi helps students connect from home with loaned iPads so they can learn English before transferring to mainstream schools.
“If a student has a problem, I will drive to their home and help them log in,” said Lavi, 27, who began working at the school shortly after being resettled in Phoenix four years ago. “I can’t sit if our kids are suffering.”