Fadumo Mohamed, a senior in the Elementary Education Foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the CEHD Student Multicultural Recognition Award this year. The award is given to a candidate who has made outstanding multicultural efforts to the CEHD community in community outreach as part of their extracurricular or professional work.
Mohamed was nominated by her McNair Scholars program advisor, Lori Helman, on the strength of her many outreach activities. She worked as a literacy mentor in Pratt Community School as part of the America Reads program where she became interested in creating an effective mentoring program for Somali-American youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.
The existing government programs designed to support positive extracurricular activities were transforming into programs to monitor youth for potential future terrorist threats. This was creating a divisive and mistrustful atmosphere in the community, so Mohamed urged the community school to not take the government funding for these programs that offered tutoring and instead to let her provide tutors with the support of the Young Muslims Collaborative (YMC).
In support of that effort she trained almost 40 mentors over two years that were paired with unmotivated or disconnected students. By training mentors who have had similar life experiences, the students are given emotional and strategic support for setting life goals. This is in contrast to programs that attempt to see these youth as potential deviants.
“Fadumo shares the importance of knowing who you are- the values of dual identity, dual language, and works to develop a curriculum that highlights this,” says Helman. “It has been my great honor to work alongside her and learn from her as she gives her full effort toward ensuring equity and positive identity formation for Somali Americans.”
Reporter Susan Du of City Pages recently reported that after just one year as the science teacher in struggling Hamline Elementary school, Bonnie Laabs raised the science proficiency rate from 17 percent to 61 percent, meeting the statewide average. According to Jodie Wilson, Hamline’s testing coordinator, this tremendous jump is “extremely unheard of” in St. Paul Schools.
Laabs uses a combination of extra-academic advice and mentoring, along with creative explanations of difficult science terminology with the help of classroom pets to help students overcome hurdles in scientific understanding.
She is also open about her own past in which she struggled with abuse at an early age, spent time in foster care, and got thrown out of school. She uses her redemption through education as an example to her students, allowing them to open up about their own fears and problems. Laabs also tells her story to underscore the importance of completing homework and getting a good education.
Bonnie Laabs graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on family, youth, and community. To read the entire article visit the CityPages website.
Cynthia Zwicky, a lecturer in the elementary education program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, is presenting an Advanced Circle Keeper’s Training as part of the annual Restorative Practices in Schools trainings. The trainings are a collaboration between the Legal Rights Center and the Minnesota Department of Education School Safety Technical Assistance Center.
A restorative school is centered on relationships, building community and repairing harm. Multiple practices provide multi-tiered levels of support for students, staff and family. The Advanced Circle Keeper training is designed for people who already practice restorative justice, typically in a school setting. ”I have found the practice to be a key component of interrupting the school to prison pipeline and in reducing racial disproportionality in suspension,” says Zwicky.
Zwicky and her co-presenter, Michael Stanefski, were two of the first people in Minnesota (and in the United States) to adopt the circle process in their work as a teacher and a social worker in the schools, respectively. They developed the Advanced Circle Keeper’s Training as an opportunity for circle keepers to observe each other’s practice in repairing harm.