Nancy Craker-Yahman: A warm welcome makes it easier for newcomers

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Published: 11-22-2023 6:07 PM

I was pleased to read the recent article about Hadley officials making new arrivals feel welcome [“State picks motel for homeless shelter” Gazette, Oct. 25]. As an educator, teacher mentor, and published writer for educational magazines, I was extremely encouraged to read about the Hadley Public School system’s welcoming of newly arriving students and their families from communities and lands near and far.

A warm and supportive welcome is vital for all students, regardless of their circumstances, and teachers and administrators must ensure this happens in their school buildings and classrooms. An initial warm and inclusive welcome can make it easier for newcomers to feel included.

I want to compliment Hadley Elementary and Hopkins Academy for meeting their current needs and our family’s supportive history with the schools. During our son’s elementary and high school years, the teachers and administrators welcomed our family from another country. With their curiosity and respect, I was delighted to be a guest speaker who shared aspects of my international teaching career and about our cross-cultural family.

The teachers and the administration were always eager to learn suggestions for implementing service learning projects involving local and international relationships. A few of our rewarding projects included Helping Hands for Haiti, the Hadley Lions Club Support for Support, and Soup for Syria. These hands-on, do-good projects fostered collaboration and community involvement.

What has amazed me most is that the welcome and support have kept going. Now, this is a win-win for the school district, the town, and the Massachusetts National Guard. Having a son who proudly serves for the National Guard, we are pleased to see their service responsibilities are active in needy communities. Providing safe spaces and food and helping to establish safety, warmth, and care in our schools and around town is the best way to be.

Nancy Craker-Yahman


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