By Jim Clark, principal at Windom Dual Immersion School and president-elect of the Minneapolis Division
Immersion schools across the country have enjoyed extra help from interns across the world. Some are called Amities (named for the most popular visa processing company), and others are just called Teaching Assistants (TAs). What most schools don’t realize is that this assistance does not have to be limited to language schools. In fact, any school can host TAs and enjoy the extra help they bring to classrooms, as well as give students the possibility of learning about the countries the TAs come from.
With a TA, you will essentially get another adult in a classroom that has completed her/his education studies or is close to finishing. Our TAs lead guided reading and math groups, work individually with students, help during lunch, and sometimes even teach whole group lessons. In addition, they are expected to share information about their culture and home country with our students.
The number of TAs per school varies Most may have just one or two, while others have one TA per classroom. My school has 10 and we schedule them in different classrooms so that all teachers can have at least one extra adult during language arts and math.
So, what does a school need to do to host a TA? First of all, you will need to get your Parent Association involved, because you will need to find families from your school community that will be willing to host the TAs in their home. Secondly, you will need about $5,000 per TA;$1500-$2000 to process the J-1 visa and the rest as a monthly stipend that can be between $250-$350 per month. Finally, you will need to find a J-1 visa processing company.
As stated above, Amity is the most popular company in the United States. It is probably the easiest company to choose if you are starting out since they will do everything for you. They will find the TA, lead them through the process, give the school step-by-step instructions on what needs to happen, and follow up with the school and the TA during the year. We started out with Amity and then transitioned to CICD (Center for International Career Development). They are cheaper but you have to find your own TAs. This is quite easy once you have had your first TAs since they can help you get into contact with future candidates. In addition, CICD is a smaller company so they are able to give schools more personalized attention.
If you are interested in getting more information you can follow these links to the J-1 processing companies:
Also, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.