CEHD News Social Justice

CEHD News Social Justice

M.Ed. and teacher candidate receives DOVE scholarship for professional students

photo by Aaron Rice

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction is pleased to announce that Alexei Moon Casselle, who was recently accepted into the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching License in English Education program, received the Diversity of Views in Education (DOVE) Recruiting Scholarship for New Professional Students. The scholarship provides full academic support to stand-out professional students who have a strong undergraduate academic record while overcoming educational or economic obstacles, potential for success in professional education, and demonstrated experience with, or commitment to, contributing to the University’s goal of promoting excellence through diversity.

Casselle plans to earn his M.Ed. and teaching license in communications arts in order to continue to teach spoken word poetry in urban schools which he has been doing as a community teacher at the FAIR School Downtown in Minneapolis and as an artist-in-residence with COMPAS. He is a long-time Minneapolis resident, parent, and community artist. His multiracial identity is central to his work with youth, writing, and performance.  

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction is very excited to welcome Casselle to the English Education program with additional support from the C&I Teachers Scholars of Color Program. He was nominated by Teaching Specialist & Licensure Program Lead for English Education Abby Rombalski.

Learn more about diversity initiatives and the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching License programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I’s Lesa Clarkson receives the President’s 2018 Community-Engaged Scholar Award

 

Lesa Clarkson wins community engaged scholar award
Lesa Clarkson (right) with Curriculum and Instruction Department Chair Cynthia Lewis (left)

Lesa Clarkson, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has been named the 2018 President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award winner. The award recognizes one faculty or P&A individual annually for exemplary engaged scholarship in his/her field of inquiry.  The recipient must demonstrate a longstanding academic career that embodies the University of Minnesota’s definition of public engagement. Clarkson was chosen from all of the winners from each UMN college and campus community-engaged scholars award winners to receive this highest of UMN honors for her work with Prepare2Nspire.

Prepare2Nspire is a tiered tutoring program that prepares underserved middle school and high-school math students to succeed. The program connects math students in urban classrooms with undergraduate mentors at the University. The tutoring sessions take place in North Minneapolis and provides free bus fares and food to the students and mentors. The students served are primarily African-American, historically the group that has the lowest scores on national and state assessments. Through the program, she has seen ACT and standardized test scores rise.

Curriculum and Instruction department chair Cynthia Lewis says that “Lesa has developed and implemented a program that not only provides students with support in mathematics but also creates a culture of excellence and high academic standards…Lesa strives to provide underrepresented populations with the power of math as a tool for social justice.” Clarkson’s commitment to educational equity and social justice is an outstanding exemplar of the department’s mission.

Her innovative work with this program has been honored with an INSIGHT into Diversity Inspiring Women in STEM award in 2016.

As a recipient of the University-wide Community Engaged Scholarship Award, Clarkson will receive $15,000 and have her named placed on the UMN Scholars walk.

Consider supporting the Prepare2Nspire program with a donation to keep the program running for future students in need.

Find out more about mathematics education degrees and programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I M.Ed. candidate opens Dakota Language immersion school

 

Photo by J.P. Lawrence

Vanessa Goodthunder, an M.Ed. candidate in Social Studies Education, was recently featured in the Christian Science Monitor for her work to open a Dakota Language Immersion preschool in the Lower Sioux reservation as part of an effort to revitalize the Dakota language and cultural heritage. Currently, only five people in the state speak Dakota.

Goodthunder received a $1.9 million grant in September from Head Start,  followed by a $90,000 grant in December. With an opening set for mid-June, the immersion school will enroll up to 74 children.

“We feel it’s a great vehicle to raise the next generation of Dakota speakers, and simultaneously help heal historical trauma,” Goodthunder says.

Read the full article in the Christian Science Monitor.

Learn more about the M.Ed. and initial teaching license programs and the M.Ed. in language immersion education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

APARC fills important need to support Asian and Pacific Islander students on campus

Students celebrate the opening of APARC’s new space in Appleby 311.

Did you know that Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students are the largest minority group on the UMN Twin Cities’ campus? They make up fully 10 percent of the student population, and up until last year, there were no specific university resources geared towards those students. That has recently changed with the opening of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Resource Center (APARC), which recently moved to brand new space in Appleby 311 and is welcoming drop-ins.

The center is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant received by Bic Ngo, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Josephine Lee,  a professor in the College of Liberal Arts. APARC fills a need on campus to create a space for AAPI students to reflect on their identities, develop their voice, find community and academic support. APARC Program Director Kong Her explains that “What we’ve been hearing from students is they feel they’re not being heard. [Asian American students] have different challenges that are often not acknowledged by the institution and need different resources than the very broad services multicultural student services provide.”

Program Coordinator Peter Limthongviratn further explains that AAPI students often are not valued in racial discourse. “Some students feel their struggle is not seen as a real struggle and that they don’t belong in students of color spaces. APARC is important because it provides a dedicated space and resources to affirm their struggle while providing help and support.”

Ngo emphasizes that the AAPI population in the UMN Twin Cities campus is uniquely in need of support because the students “reflect the state’s large AAPI population, which has the greatest concentration of AAPI in the U.S. interior, including the largest urban Hmong population in the world at 64,442. The state’s AAPI population is strikingly different from that of the U.S. as a whole, with 50.2 percent of them identifying as Southeast Asian. This is significant, because this means half of the AAPIs in Minnesota are refugees or children of refugees. Census data shows that Southeast Asian Americans have among the highest poverty rates and lowest educational attainment rates.”

APARC is hoping to establish a relationship with the large Asian American community in the Twin Cities, especially the Hmong population. Her explains, “ In the Hmong community, the university is a renowned institution. Being able to establish APARC as resource center to support Hmong students strengthens that community connection.”  This can help establish trust with students and families that they will be welcomed at the university and thrive here.

The center supports Asian American students by focusing on three areas: academic support, identity affirmation, and community. APARC provides AAPI tutors and writing consultants for who can relate to the AAPI experience.  For instance, they often run into specific issues with AAPI students who feel torn between school and obligations at home. Often, people who are not AAPI don’t understand the obligation to family. They work with students on how to handle the pressure of family and communicate effectively with advisors and instructors.

APARC also helps students examine their AAPI identity through workshops, retreats, and lectures. “We want students to think about how to connect their identity to future careers and opportunities,” adds Limthongviratn.

The other area the center focuses on is cultivating a welcoming community for all AAPI students. “There was a disconnect of AAPI communities on campus,” says Her.  “All the students groups are pocketed; Everyone does their own thing. There was a need to come together and create one whole community and that’s what we are trying to do.”

To find out more about the services APARC provides or upcoming events, you can find them online, follow them on Facebook, or stop by the new center at Appleby 311.

 

 

 

 

Elementary education major finds a deeper understanding of marginalized communities through RJUS minor

Michael Kroymann is a senior Elementary Education Foundations major who is earning the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling (RJUS) minor to better support marginalized students and families, and gain a deeper understanding of the conditions that affect their lives. As a queer, non-binary individual Michael has a unique understanding of the important roles that empathy, trust, and understanding play in building community with groups often ignored by mainstream education.

What drove you to enroll in the RJUS minor program?

Understanding and empathy are central to the way I walk through the world, especially in my teaching practice. I felt it was essential for me to engage in coursework that expanded my knowledge of the students and families I interact with in metro-area schools. I felt that my major program did not offer enough content in that area, and I decided to pursue the RJUS minor to further engage with diversity and justice.

Which part of the program have you found the most valuable?

I think a fundamental part of the program is inward reflection. I truly believe that I am able to learn and better myself through reflection, and my coursework definitely supported this. I also found there to be a constant free exchange of ideas and experiences through conversation, which has been invaluable in furthering my education.

How was your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty involved in the RJUS have been such an important part of my experience. Never before have I felt so understood and supported in my classes. My interactions with faculty were all built upon a foundation of trust, empathy, and genuine care, qualities which are frequently hard to find in a university setting.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Things are a little bit up in the air right now. I realized this year that I don’t feel able to support an entire classroom of my own at this stage of my life, so my plans have been totally revamped. I would still love to work with youth, and I am also really interested in nonprofit work and community organizations.

What do you hope to get out of the minor? How will it help you in your career path?

In completing the RJUS minor, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the world and develop skills that help me to engage critically with the institutions and conditions that affect the lives of marginalized communities. This will enable me work with diverse groups of people in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to their lived experiences.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

As a queer, non-binary individual, learning and working in academia is frequently a draining experience. I have felt invisible in so many of my classes, especially in the education courses. My time in the RJUS minor has never felt this way; I have always been welcomed and made to feel safe and valued as my whole self. This has been such a positive part of my undergraduate experience, and I am forever grateful.

Learn more about the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling minor, including how to apply.

C&I staffer joins relief brigade in Puerto Rico, organizes to reopen schools

Sigal joined aid brigades to clear debris caused by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Brad Sigal, a staff member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, recently returned from an aid trip to Puerto Rico where he assisted the Puerto Rican Teacher’s Federation (FMPR) with their disaster relief work and educational advocacy to reopen public schools. He saw the devastation of hurricane Maria firsthand and witnessed the resilience of the communities one month after the hurricane hit while they were still dealing with power outages, food shortages, and a breakdown of infrastructure.

Sigal decided to go down to help after seeing the FMPR’s calls for help on Facebook. “They were organizing work brigades to clear roads and fix houses. I wanted to support the efforts,” he says.

The capital of San Juan, Sigal reported, was mostly without electricity and using generators to keep some homes and businesses electrified, including the international airport. The outlying cities were completely in the dark and still had roads covered in debris and homes with holes in the roofs or walls.

Sigal and FMPR president Mercedes Martinez.

Sigal met teachers and families who were concerned that schools still weren’t open a month after the hurricane. He helped the FMPR organize to reopen schools, a defense against growing fears that schools would be privatized in the wake of hurricane Maria in a similar turn of events that saw 7,000 teachers fired and public schools shut down and converted to charter schools after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Many schools have opened since he returned from his visit, Sigal says, largely because of the political activism by teacher’s union and a legal injunction where they forced the Department of Education to give a tally of which schools not open and why. He explains that schools were remaining closed because officials said there was infrastructure damage, but people had been using the cafeterias and schools as relief centers and were holding up well in that capacity. “Saying that the schools are not in condition to reopen didn’t make sense,” Sigal said of the situation.

Around 100 schools are still not open 70 days after the hurricane and so the work continues to save those schools and get them reopened to the students.

Sigal noted that most teachers still decided to go to their closed schools and help families in the buildings in order to maintain a connection with the community and continue to work.

“ I was amazed by the teachers and others I met. In the face of having to deal with their own personal crises of not having housing or food or electricity, they were also battling political issues with the school,” Sigal recounted. “The ability to do all that incredible.”

 

 

C&I faculty and staff discuss racial justice in day-long retreat

Faculty and staff in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction kicked off the school year with their annual retreat, but the topics of the day were not the usual plans and announcements. Instead, the department sat down to discuss the departmental climate as it relates to race, bias, and diversity.

The conversations were facilitated by Samuel D. Museus, Director of the National Institute for Transformation and Equity at Indiana University, Bloomington and Kimberly Truong, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

“We hope that this will be a transformative experience and lead to an even stronger and more cohesive community within the department,” Museus wrote.

After the retreat, the staff and faculty are prepared to continue working on bringing topics of race and bias to the forefront and plan to address areas in the curriculum where equity can be more deeply interwoven into the instruction. “As as an outcome of the retreat, the Second Language Education program has begun process for systematic review of curriculum so that the goals of social equity, multilingualism and racial justice are highlighted throughout coursework and program planning,” notes Professor Kendall King.

Many in the department expressed optimism for the coming year after the constructive dialogues.Teaching Specialist Linda Buturian noted that “when we share our stories, when we feel heard, it makes things lighter.”

Learn more about the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s commitment to diversity and social justice.

 

CEHD embeds educational equity skills in teacher education curriculum

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) created the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) in 2010 to better prepare teachers for the challenges they face in a 21st century classroom. In the seven years since TERI began, CEHD has made important changes to the teacher preparation curriculum. One of these changes is a new emphasis on teaching “dispositions,” which describe the relational skills that teachers need to connect with their students, families, and communities.

By teaching relational skills, helping teachers understand the impact of their own racial identity on their students, CEHD helps teacher candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to foster educational equity in their classrooms.

Learn more in this blog post from Misty Sato, associate professor and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development.

C&I student, Fadumo Mohamed, wins CEHD Multicultural Recognition Award

Lori Helman, Fadumo Mohamed and her parents, Anthony Albecker, Vichet Chhuon

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.”

Mohamed will enter the Master of Education and Initial Teaching License program in Elementary Education in the fall where she plans to continue her work towards engaging youth and creating a curriculum that responds to the needs of multicultural student communities.

Learn more about the elementary education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.