Senior Helps Families of Migrant Workers

"It really opens your eyes when you're working with a non-English-speaking student, and you're trying to teach them math, English, or reading," said senior George Crosby, from Walterboro, S.C. 

For the past two years Crosby has been working with Colleton County School District's Migrant Education program. The program's purpose is to ensure the children of the migrant workers have the same opportunity to meet the same state content and student performance standards that all other children are expected to meet. 

According to Charleston's Post & Courier, South Carolina ranks among the top 10 states for legal Mexican farm workers who come to the U.S. through a government-sponsored program.

Providing Education and Food 

While still a student, Crosby is employed by Colleton County School District as a field recruiter.

"I go out and talk to migrant families and try to qualify them through the migrant education program," he said. 

"I do a lot of legwork working with people at the local and state level to get the migrant families signed up. We want to make sure we have the right documentation for these families so that we’re able to provide educational and food services for them." 

How the program came to be

This past summer Crosby took on an internship to focus on the policy aspect of the program. 

"As a political science major, I wanted to see how what I learned in class translates to the real world," he said. 

Since he has been working with the migrant education program, Crosby wanted to see how it came to be. 

"During the internship I learned how the policy was drafted to begin with and how they're trying to reach everyone in the certain group of migrant families," Crosby said. 

"It's amazing to see the process and the thinking that goes on behind the scenes." 

Croby continued his work as a field recruiter this summer in addition to learning about the program's policy. 

Serving those in need

Crosby works with a wide range of age groups, from preschool students to 22-year-olds who haven't received their high school diplomas or equivalent degrees. Crosby helped tutor children in migrant camps throughout Colleton County. Farmers typically provide trailers for the migrant workers to use.

"This year has been a little different with the coronavirus," Crosby said. "We've tried to do everything virtually, but it's hard because migrant families don't have resources like the Internet or WiFi." 

Fortunately, the migrant education program was able to receive funding for mobile hotspots. They also issued Chromebooks, owned by the school district, to the children of migrant workers. 

To get in touch with the families, Crosby had to make frequent trips to migrant camps and to the places the migrant workers work. Many times Crosby had to contact their employers.

"Doing everything we can for these families" 

Crosby is in his last semester at PC. He's in class during the week but spends most weekends helping migrant families. 

"I still try to qualify families who are moving in," he said. "Since I'm at school, I can't be as hands-on, but the school district will contact me if a family is moving in so I can get them registered for the upcoming year."

Crosby's still thinking about what he wants to do after he graduates. He says he may go to law school, but he wants to keep working with the school district and the migrant families in some capacity. 

"The hispanic community, especially in the lower part of the state, has been hit hard during the pandemic," Crosby said. "I've been fortunate to work with Dr. Vanessa Nelson-Reed (Director of the Federal Programs for Colleton County) and others at Colleton County School District to make sure we are doing everything we can for these families."