Wolverine Time helps ESOL students transition to life in Maryland, build academic skills

Wolverine Time participants at the Baltimore Science Center. The program runs after school for ESOL students.

Heather Holcomb

Wolverine Time participants at the Baltimore Science Center. The program runs after school for ESOL students.

Mariam Bukhari, News Managing Editor

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Watkins Mill is one of the only two schools in Montgomery County with a special program for ESOL students, funded by the Maryland 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant.

At Watkins Mill, the program is commonly known as “Wolverine Time.” The after school program, separate from ESOL classes, is a partnership between the school and its Wellness Center.

“Anticipated outcomes of participation… include higher [academic] achievements, increased parent involvement, and improvement in students’ interest and engagement in school, leading to better rates of attendance, promotion, and graduation,” ESOL resource teacher Margaret Vanbuskirk said.

Wolverine Time serves as a transitional program for students in ESOL classes who choose to sign up for it. The group meets from Mondays through Thursdays from 2:40 to 5:15 pm. All members are asked to attend after school sessions for at least ten hours a week.

“[Being involved with Wolverine Time] has helped me speak better English and improved my math skills faster,” freshman Georgette Taylor said.

The program has designated days for academic subjects to help students catch up with the current curriculum. Students are able to work towards other graduation requirements such as student service learning hours as well. The program uses bilingual workshops by Identity, Inc. for character education.

“I would like to see as many ESOL students as possible take advantage of this program to build their skills in English and math, participate in fun activities, and enjoy themselves in the process,” ESOL teacher and Wolverine Time sponsor Heather Holcomb said.

“My favorite part about the program is getting to play games like soccer,” freshman Bryan Arevalo said.

Heather Holcomb
ESOL students enjoying lunch on a Wolverine Time field trip after school

Students are introduced to positive youth developments like recreational activities, restorative practices, and decision making skills in an attempt to help them strengthen their confidence in themselves and build positive connections with other people. Members get a chance to practice real life skills and get assistance filling out job applications.

“We hope it will make a big difference in the lives of our students and their families,” Vanbuskirk added. At 22 percent, Watkins Mill has the highest percentage of English Language Learners in Montgomery County.

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