City Lights, in conjunction with the University of San Francisco School of Education and Refugee and Immigrant Transitions, presents
“Humanizing Education: Equity, Belonging & Justice for Immigrant and Refugee Students in U.S. Schools”
Humanizing Education is a half-day virtual symposium with two plenary and three break-out group discussions to explore how educators, school and district leaders, social service providers, and community partners can work together to better support immigrant and refugee students. By engaging with scholars and practitioners who are deeply engaged in these topics, participants will explore trauma-informed, culturally-affirming, and relevant educational approaches for immigrant and refugee students who make up an increasing percentage of students in U.S. schools. Admission to all sessions is free. Registration is required.
With Lisa Auslander, Monisha Bajaj, Lesley Bartlett, Emily Francis, Jyoti Guring, Gabriela Martínez, Jo Napolitano, Jane Pak, Kajal Shahali, Sailaja Suresh, and Daniel Walsh.
Nadia Elbgal, the 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, will deliver an opening poem to begin the proceedings.
All sessions are free to the public. They will be held on the zoom platform. Registration required. Scroll down this page to access the registration links.
Opening Plenary: “Understanding Issues, Supporting Educators & Humanizing Students” 11:00 am-12:30 pm Pacific / 2pm – 3:30pm Eastern
After a welcome by hosts, the authors of three new books about schooling for immigrant and refugee students will discuss the educational landscape in the US and strategies for how educators, school leaders, and community based organizations can best support students. With a lens of humanizing the experiences and realities of newcomer students, the authors will discuss issues, contexts and strategies. The three books placed in conversation on this plenary panel are (1) “The School I Deserve” (by Jo Napolitano, 2021, Beacon Press); (2) “If You Only Knew” (by Emily Francis, 2022, Seidlitz); and (3) “Humanizing Education for Immigrant and Refugee Youth:20 Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond” (by Monisha Bajaj, Daniel Walsh, Lesley Bartlett & Gabriela Martinez, 2023, Teachers College Press). Moderated by Jane Pak, Co-executive Director of Refugee and Immigrant Transitions.
Breakout Sessions: 1:00-1:45 pm Pacific Time / 4:00 – 4:45 pm Eastern Time:
Breakout Session 1: Supporting SLIFE Students
Students with Limited and Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE) face additional challenges when they arrive in U.S. classrooms, such as limited numeracy and literacy in their home language. Long time educators and experts, Lisa Auslander, Senior Project Director for Bridges to Academic Success, and Danny Walsh, former school leader and educator at a high school for newcomers, will lead participants in a discussion of strategies for working with SLIFE.
Breakout Session 2. School-Community Partnerships
How can schools and community organizations work together to support newcomer students and educators who serve them? This session will explore effective strategies and approaches. This session will be facilitated by Sailaja Suresh, Executive Director of Systems and Services as well as a former educator and school leader in Oakland Unified School District, and Gaby Martínez, a staff member at the University of San Francisco School of Education who is a former newcomer student and who has researched effective strategies to support unaccompanied minors and other immigrant/refugee students.
Breakout Session 3. Intergroup Tensions and Possibilities for Solidarity
Many immigrant and refugee students experience anti-immigrant environments and unhealthy school climates that manifest in additional stress, othering and intergroup conflict. Moving away from divisive environments, how can educators cultivate places of belonging and mutual support for all students?. Kajal Shahali, Youth Program Manager at a community-based organization, Refugee and Immigrant Transitions, and Jyoti Guring, Community Engagement Coordinator at RIT will facilitate this session that will draw from real examples and engage participants in discussion.
Closing Plenary: “Advancing Justice: A Call to Action” 2:00pm – 2:30pm Pacific Time / 5:00pm-5:30pm Eastern Time
In this closing session, authors and facilitators of breakout sessions will offer closing remarks and calls to action for improving education for immigrant and refugee students. Participants will be invited to learn more about communities of practice for educators and resources that can offer insights and perspectives. With a closing poem by Nadia Elbgal.
(Click on each book to learn more)
About the Presenters:
Lisa Auslander is the Principal Investigator and Senior Project Director at Bridges to Academic Success, a project at the Graduate Center, CUNY where she leads the curriculum, professional learning and evaluation teams, designing and evaluating resources for teachers of SLIFE and newcomer multilingual students. In this role, she works with schools and districts throughout New York State and other parts of the country on their school improvement plans for multilingual learners. She serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hunter College in Educational Leadership and is the co-author of School-wide Systems for Multilingual Learner Success: A Roadmap for Leaders.
Monisha Bajaj is Professor of International and Multicultural Education at the University of San Francisco. She is the editor and author of eight books and numerous articles on issues of peace, human rights, migration, and education. Dr. Bajaj has developed curriculum and teacher training materials—particularly related to human rights, racial justice, ethnic studies, and sustainability—for non-profit and national advocacy organizations as well as inter-governmental organizations, such as UNICEF and UNESCO. In 2015, she received the Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award (2015) from Division B of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Her Tedx talk on educating for peace and human rights can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/bajajtedx Together with Daniel Walsh, Lesley Bartlett, Gabriela Martínez, Professor. Bajaj is the editor of Humanizing Education for Immigrant & Refugee Youth: 20 Strategies for the Classroom.
Purchase copies of “Humanizing Education for Immigrant & Refugee Youth: 20 Strategies for the Classroom” at this LINK.
Lesley Bartlett is Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Policy Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison. An anthropologist by training who works in the field of International and Comparative Education, Professor Bartlett does research in literacy studies (including multilingual literacies) and migration. She is the author of more than 9 books, including Rethinking Case Study Research: A Comparative Approach.
Nadia Elbgal is the 2022 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She is a Yemeni-American Muslim woman who advocates for and raises awareness on topics relating to the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities. Nadia is also a songwriter who uses poetry daily and feels it is essential to writing her music. Poetry has always made her feel empowered and hopeful.
Astrid Emily Francis is a nationally recognized English as a Second Language teacher at Concord High School in Concord, North Carolina. She serves students in 9th-12th grade with various English proficiency levels. Emily is a native Spanish-speaker who is originally from Guatemala and came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor. Her experience as an English Language Learner inspired her to become an ESL teacher and affords her a deep understanding of the challenges her students must overcome to find success. Emily earned a BA in Spanish and a MAT in ESL from UNC-Charlotte. She serves as a professional development facilitator, motivational speaker, and Keynote. Emily forms part of the Executive Board of The Carolinas TESOL (teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). Emily is the author for If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher. Emily served as teacher liaison to the Cabarrus County Board of Education as Teacher of the Year 2016.
Purchase copies of “If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher” at this LINK.
Jyoti Gurung is Community Engagement Coordinator at RIT. She is a former Bhutanese refugee from Nepal. When she arrived in Oakland as a teenager, she participated in RIT’s After-School tutoring program at Oakland International High School, where she later became a peer tutor. Over the years, she continued to partner with RIT as a youth leader, mentor, and intern. She officially joined RIT’s team in 2016 after finishing her undergraduate degree. She hopes to continue to create spaces of welcome, healing, and solidarity in communities that have experienced displacement. She is currently finishing up her Master’s degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in Peacebuilding at NYU.
Gabriela Martínez arrived in the U.S. at age 16 from El Salvador, speaking little English. She went on to graduate from Oakland International High School, received her BA from San Francisco State University in 2016, and graduated from the Masters in Migration Studies program at the University of San Francisco in 2022. Gaby is the co-author of the recent book, Humanizing Education for Immigrant and Refugee Youth: 20 Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond (with Monisha Bajaj, Lesley Bartlett and Daniel Walsh).
Jo Napolitano spent nearly two decades reporting for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Newsday before winning a Spencer Education Fellowship to Columbia University in 2016 in support of her reporting on immigrant youth. Her first book, The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America, was published by Beacon Press in Spring 2021. Napolitano has reported on many topics throughout her award-winning career, including crime and science. But education remains her primary focus, and for good reason. Born in Bogota, Colombia, Napolitano was abandoned at a bus stop by her birthmother when she was just a day old. Placed in an orphanage, she nearly died of starvation before she was adopted by a blue-collar family from New York. She was raised by a single parent and is a first-generation college graduate having earned her bachelors from Medill at Northwestern University. She believes no child’s life should be left to chance.
Purchase copies of “The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America” at this LINK.
Jane Pak is Co-Executive Director at Refugee and Immigrant Transitions (RIT), and Adjunct Professor in the Master in Migration Studies program at the University of San Francisco. Jane’s work is informed by Critical Refugee Studies, liberatory education, community-engaged research, and her family history of forced migration, resistance, and community care. She brings 20+ years of experience in education in various contexts across nonprofit, higher education, government, and business sectors. She is presently co-developing a community research practice at RIT that aims to coalesce community knowledge to inform systems change. Jane holds a Doctorate in International & Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco; MA in International Educational Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University; MBA from Clarkson University; and BMATH from the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Kajal Shahali works as the Youth Program Manager in Oakland, overseeing Refugee & Immigrant Transitions (RIT’s) after-school and youth tutoring/ mentoring programs and enrollment support for newcomer students. As an immigrant from Iran and fluent in Farsi, Kajal has worked in a variety of refugee support roles, including with IRC as a Resettlement Caseworker and Education Specialist, supporting newly arrived refugee families to make sure they have access to education services in Oakland and the East Bay. Kajal received her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies with a minor in Public Policy from UC Berkeley and holds a Master’s in International Child Studies with a focus on Refugee Children’s Right to Education from King’s College, London.
Sailaja Suresh is the Executive Director of Systems and Services for Oakland Unified School District, managing the district’s COVID response during the pandemic and central services to school sites. She was a founding teacher at Oakland International High School, where she later served as an instructional coach and Co-Principal. She previously worked for the Boston Public Schools as a technology support specialist, where she managed a math and technology professional development program and co-authored the district’s long-term technology plan. She left Boston to travel around the world and to return to work in the public schools of California, where she is most at home. Sailaja has a BS in Business Administration and a minor in Religious Studies from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Daniel R. Walsh is English Language Fellow with the U.S. Department of State in Cusco, Perú where his primary assignment is professional learning and coaching for Peruvian teachers of English in the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano. Prior to Perú, he held various positions over a 20 year career with the NYC Department of Education, including teacher, instructional coach, principal, director, and senior director. Daniel also taught in CUNY City College’s master’s programs in TESOL & Bilingual and in the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. Much of his work has focused on access and equity for multilingual learners through pedagogy, school structures, and policy.
To learn more about Refugee Immigrant Transitions visit their website: https://www.reftrans.org/
To learn more about the USF School of Education visit this link: https://www.usfca.edu/education
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/