Teacher at IPS' Newcomer Program making difference in refugee students' lives

INDIANAPOLIS -- In a role often full of academic challenges, one teacher at an IPS school on Indy's west side is making a difference in his students' lives.

Ethan Hoffman is a ninth-grade math teacher at IPS' Newcomer school just off W. 38th Street. The Newcomer Program serves more than 200 students who are immigrants and refugees, many from Africa and Latin countries. Many students are fleeing violence from the countries. 

Since the students have such different backgrounds, teachers at the school have language barriers with the students. 

IPS officials say Hoffman goes beyond his typical teacher role. Students and colleagues rave about him. 

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When classes end, the students frequently come back to his classroom to eat lunch with him.

"He shows us pictures when he was little and we show him too," said Dior, a student with the Newcomer Program. "And we talk and we play too."

Hoffman said he tries to be there for his students, not just in their academic lives, but in their personal lives. 

"I think it's really great to have an opportunity to give them a role model in their life," Hoffman said. "A lot of times, they're coming in and they don't necessarily have a lot of family members that they know all too well in the states. So it's a great opportunity to give them someone they know they can trust."

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