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Bus Duty Helps a JCPS Teacher Connect With New Students

It’s back to school for nearly 100,000 Jefferson County public school students.

On Wednesday morning, about 250 of those students rolled up in nearly a dozen buses to Newcomer Academy, located in west Louisville.

Newcomer is a school for students who are learning English as a second language. The school serves many of the district’s refugee and immigrant students—many of whom came to the U.S. knowing little or no English.

"I've been teaching for 14 years and this is the best job I've ever had because I've got the whole world in my classroom everyday," veteran teacher Eric Bookstrom said.

Related: WFPL's complete coverage of Jefferson County Public Schools' students return to school

On the first morning of the 2014-15 school year, Bookstrom had been assigned to greet students coming off of school buses.

"I've actually learned over the years to say 'good morning' in about 15 different languages," Bookstrom said. 

As I reported earlier this week, JCPS' population of students who speak English as a second language has nearly doubled to about 4,800 over the last decade, said  Jayne Kraemer, the ESL staff developer for JCPS.  It's the fastest growing population in school district.

On the first day back to class, I went back to Newcomer Academy with  Bookstrom as my guide.Bus Duty Helps One Teacher Connect With New Students

"I do bus duty throughout the year because it changed my relationship with the community and with the kids," he said.

"Because if I'm the first person they see in the morning when they come off the bus—if I can set the tone, like I'm happy, you're here, it's a good place to be, come on in—it makes me feel better, it makes the kids feel better."