Welcome Center changes location, mission stays the same

When any Lincoln Public Schools employee is asked to describe their educational philosophy, a phrase you're likely to hear is "All means all." LPS wraps its arms around every student and embraces their uniqueness.

There’s no better example of this than the LPS Welcome Center, which opens its doors to embrace families and students from around the world. The Welcome Center serves hundreds of families year-round.

“No matter where they come from, no matter what cultural perspectives they bring and no matter what languages they speak, we want them to know that they are welcome here,” said LPS Cultural Specialist and Bilingual Liaison Coordinator Oscar Rios Pohirieth.

Now LPS can even better serve those families and students. The Welcome Center recently moved from Park Middle School to a new location at 70th and X streets. The new location offers more space for LPS staff to meet with immigrant families as they enroll in LPS.

“This location will help us build the trust and engagement of our families,” said LPS Director of Federal Programs Linda Hix. “The ability to meet with three family groups at the same time allows students to get started at school as soon as possible.”

LPS has a diverse student population, with roughly 2,500 English Language Learners. These students and their families represent 152 different countries and speak 130 different languages. For many immigrant families, the Welcome Center is their introduction to not only LPS but Lincoln.

LPS works closely with resettlement agencies such as Lutheran Family Services and Catholic Social Services to know when there are new students ready to be enrolled. Other times families go directly to the Welcome Center.“Either way, the acculturation and integration process for new Americans starts at the Welcome Center,” Rios Pohirieth said.

Published: September 20, 2021, Updated: September 20, 2021

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel and LPS Cultural Specialist and Bilingual Liaison Coordinator Oscar Rios Pohirieth at the Welcome Center's new location