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Informing the Lincoln High community since 1895

The Advocate

Informing the Lincoln High community since 1895

The Advocate

Unsung Heroes: Helping immigrant families through LPS

A Spotlight on Peggy Newquist, the Family Literacy Coordinator at LPS
Photo by Eleanor Erickson
Peggy Newquist, LPS Family Literacy Coordinator, conducts English class for families
Video by By Eleanor Erickson
Reading Time: 2 minutes

LPS has many students from other countries, who do not speak English as their first language. LPS provides in-school programs to further these students understanding of English, but the families of the children are still often stuck, unable to quickly communicate with the society around them. Luckily, for several years, people have been working to find a solution to this problem. One of those people is Peggy Newquist, the Family Literacy Coordinator at LPS.

The LPS Family Literacy Programs aim to teach parents to speak and read English, and to educate them about how the school system works and how best to support their children. Newquists’ job is mainly to supervise and coordinate these programs, but she also teaches parents directly on Tuesdays,  often at Elliot Elementary school.

“It’s not easy being an immigrant or a refugee,” she says. “To start over, and so they provide me with inspiration. They remind me that my life is not difficult, even though some days  I  might think that it is difficult.”

There is no denying that Peggy has helped many of families at LPS to adjust to their new lives, but this is not even close to the only time she has worked to help American immigrants. Prior to working in Lincoln schools, Ms. Newquist developed a whole Cultural Orientation Program through Catholic Social Services, which she then worked at for many years. This program not only taught immigrants and refugees how to speak English, it also taught important American skills like how to calculate tips and fill out taxes. Her work in that program led her to meet and befriend many new people, including Milijana Illic, who is from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Peggy and Milijana met through the orientation program, where Peggy was her teacher. After adjusting to American life, Milijana decided she wanted to help other people in similar situations to her own, and she wound up working alongside Peggy.  Ms. Illic fondly recalls many moments early into her friendship with Peggy, saying that she was always there for her when she needed it, bringing food and good company.

Peggy says that she has always been interested in other parts of the world, ever since she was a little girl. Now, her work  gives her the ability to learn more about what’s  outside of her home every day! It allows her to make connections to other places. She says that when she listens to the news, she often thinks of all the people that she knows from that country, and tries to check in when she can, to make sure that they’re doing okay.

Overall, it’s clear that Peggy Newquist has done a lot to help immigrants and refugees in this city get their feet on the ground and begin their new lives, and we should all be grateful that she is completing this vital work.

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