Aleixo discusses the educational needs of refugee students

Over 175,000 migrants arrived in Sweden last year alone.

The influx of refugees has posed challenges for local European schools. Educators and administrators are working to find solutions for the shortage of teachers. In addition, they must find ways to overcome language and cultural barriers for these students.

A group of 20 administrators from Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom met with officials in Washington D.C. to develop two project groups in Minnesota and Colorado to better aid national refugee resettlement.

Currently, LEAP High School in St. Paul has been serving immigrant and refugee students for the past two decades.

The dialogue continued at panel last Monday. Local administrators from Hopkins, Maplewood and St. Paul gathered to discuss strategies, one of which being a buddy program for subject matter specialists and non-native English speaking teachers to work together and pull from each others strengths.

Marina Aleixo, the International Programs Coordinator at the College of Education and Human Development was involved in the conversation. Aleixo is also assisting in a “Teach Your Former Language” project in London geared to shift attitudes towards refugees.

Dr. Aleixo leads the Global Teacher Education Program, and has hosted more than 250 preservice and inservice teachers over the past four years. Her current work in the office of International Initiatives involves development of international programs for educators and students.

“Even though they are all from European countries, they have very, very different approaches to how they deal with refugee and immigrant student,” Aleixo said to the Star Tribune.

The State Department is planning a follow-up workshop on refugees in the education system in France next January.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to continue the conversation,” Aleixo said to the Star Tribune.