More International Students Are Coming to Wayne


Emily Sawyer

Students in Mrs. Rubiconti’s 5th Period Class

By Emily Sawyer, Senior Editor

As the number of English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the Wayne district increases, an associated potential budget increase is in order.

According to school officials, there are currently 26 different languages spoken at home by Wayne families. reports there to be “nine students, for example, whose first language is Albanian, and 15 whose mother tongue is Chinese. Other pupils speak Gujarati, Hindi, and Telugu, languages native to India.”

As a result, there is a discussion about adding two more ESL teachers to the Wayne schools district, calling for an increase in the school system’s budget.

All students, English-speaking natives or not, should be given equal opportunities to receive a successful and supportive education, which is why this increase is necessary and important.

In the past year, 50 additional students entered the ESL education program in the Wayne district, increasing the total number of students enrolled to 219. Superintendent Mark Toback told, “Most of them, 63%, were not born in the U.S.”

These statistics are important because they are sent as a part of an application to the state Department of Education, which helps determine the new budget schools are entitled to receive.

There are 12 current teachers enrolled in the ESL program, two of which were just added before the 2020 school year. It is not confirmed whether this increase in students is a result of the pandemic or perhaps a new pattern.

Wayne Hills ESL teacher Ms. Rubiconti said, “Working with the ESL students here at Wayne Hills is an absolute honor and privilege. We have a wonderful, awe-inspiring group of kids who offer a global perspective and add vibrancy to our school community. Seeing our ESL program flourish is exciting, and I am always happy to meet new faces.”

I spoke with one of Ms. Rubiconti’s classes about being an ESL student at Hills and what it is like being in America.

Her intermediate ESL class ranges in age from Freshmen to Seniors coming from different countries including Italy, El Salvador, Jordan, Afghanistan, and more. 

Senior Pako Cirillo said, “Being in a class with kids from other countries is super interesting. It’s nice to learn about other cultures.”

Pako is from Italy, and both he and his Italian classmate, Junior Alessandro Borchi, agree that the weirdest thing about America is wearing pajamas in school. Pako said that back at home they would wear “normal clothes” and Alessandro said his friends would “call me crazy” if they saw him in sweatpants at school.

Senior Eloran Sarmiento Reynoso thought, “Using Chromebooks in school instead of books and paper is weird.” It seems to be a common trend that all this technology is not the norm in other countries.

Hills Freshman Mustafa Jabali expressed, “I like Hills better than my old school.”

ESL students at Hills find comfort in their ESL classes because they are surrounded by students all in the same boat: coming to a new country and barely knowing the language at all. Having the support of the other students and being able to relate to the challenges that come with a brand-new country is extremely helpful.

As students continue to come to Wayne, the importance of continued support from both teachers and students is prevalent. ESL students are making impressive strides and deserve the same type of learning environment that Gen-Ed classes receive; additional teachers to the ESL program is beneficial to their well-being.

Ms. Rubiconti’s First Period ESL Class (Emily Sawyer)