Returning back to in-person learning at the IRC in NY’s Newcomer Youth Summer Academy (NYSA) has been a highlight for the Education & Learning (E&L) team. NYSA is a five-week program that prepares newly arrived refugee children and youth for success at their grade level in the New York City public school system. The IRC in NY is thrilled about NYSA celebrating its 23rd year, bringing social-emotional learning, creative education, and a culturally responsive curriculum to each student. 

This year, the IRC in NY welcomed over 100 students speaking 23 different languages. This summer’s theme is C.A.R.E which stands for creativity, accountability, respect, and empathy. In honour of the guiding theme, school readiness assets include a rigorous curriculum, academic assessments, fun community events like bowling, a visit to Governors’ Island, the park, mindfulness activities, integrated social-emotional support, and arts education taught by our partner Arts Ignite. 

Arts Ignite has been a long-standing partner of the NYSA program for 13 years. The Arts Ignite courses have been stellar. Students had the chance to visit Broadway, attend a music concert, and practice their English through engaged arts and performance activities. So far, the students are exhibiting creativity and confidence! 

At a time when learning is back in person, the E&L team’s goal was to ensure students practice emotional identification and that teachers implement differentiated instruction to provide trauma-informed learning. The NYSA curriculum is designed to support students in an inclusive, community-driven classroom. Academic subjects are contextualized with useful phonics for lower school and grammar/conversational practice for upper school. The assessments have been helpful in building from each student’s foundation and learning style. 

Collage of students enjoying NYSA!
Students enjoying NYSA!
Photo: Teo Kim

Hear from the unique perspective of three peer-mentors who were previously NYSA students and support the classrooms: 

  1. “I was a NYSA student during remote learning, and now it's great to give back as a peer-mentor in-person. I think supporting students through visual and conversational signs is important to make translation more effective.” 

  1. “The students learn more with their peers because they can practice and use the language and skills from the classroom together. I don’t want them to face my challenges, so connecting and being there for them is nice.” 

  1. “NYSA gave me the tools to practice my English out loud. When I arrived, I spoke very little, and now feel confident about starting college this fall. I am happy to continue improving my English while helping students.  

Now in its fourth week, NYSA students have enjoyed their fashion show and are preparing for the talent & skills show, a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, and graduation-- which is happening on the fifth and final week. NYSA has gone by so fast, and the students are eager to celebrate their growth in the program. We wish our NYSA students continued success for the school year! 

The IRC in NY is pleased to foster new community connections to help students gain confidence throughout their academic school year. NYSA is one piece of IRC in NY year-round youth programming.