CEHD News Curriculum and Instruction

CEHD News Curriculum and Instruction

Helman helps write new national literacy standards

Lori Helman, Professor of Literacy Education

Lori Helman, a professor in  the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research was part of a team of 28 literacy experts that helped write Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017)—the first-ever set of national standards guiding the preparation of literacy professionals, published by the International Literacy Association (ILA).

The updated standards describe the characteristics of effective literacy professional preparation programs, integrating research-based promising practices, professional wisdom, and feedback from various stakeholders during public comment periods. Helman served as an appointed member of the select Standards Revision Committee 2017 and was a writer on Standard 4: Diversity and Equity, as well as led the team that made recommendations for principals’ use of the literacy standards.

Last updated in 2010, the title reflects ILA’s expanded definition of literacy beyond reading. Standards 2017 promotes a broader repertoire of skills—achieved through more rigorous field work, digital learning and equity-building practices, among other key changes—ensuring that all candidates are prepared to meet the demands of 21st-century literacy instruction.

Standards 2017 sets forth a common vision of what all literacy programs should look like—and hands institutions a road map to get there,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “This is an important step toward ensuring that all literacy professional preparation programs and practicing literacy professionals provide the foundational tools needed to deliver high-quality literacy instruction.”

Although the category of specialized reading professional was introduced 20 years ago, there remained some confusion about the various roles and responsibilities. Standards 2017 delineates three roles of specialized literacy professionals—reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches and literacy supervisors/coordinator—explaining the differences between and among the roles, clarifying expectations and enabling preparation programs to meet more specific goals.

Standards 2017 also revises guidance for the roles of principals, teacher educators and literacy partners and provides literacy-specific standards for classroom teachers for pre-K/primary, elementary/intermediate and middle/high school levels, ensuring that literacy practices are infused in all areas of the curriculum.

Learn more about the literacy education programs in the Department of Curriculum and the professional development opportunities for educators and literacy leaders offered by the Minnesota Center for Reading Research.

C&I participating in 2018 NSF’s “STEM for All” video showcase to highlight innovation in STEM education

SciGirls code connects girls to technology to advance their skills in STEM.

Cassie Scharber, Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, will be featured in the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase funded by the National Science Foundation.  The event is being held online from May 14-21st.

The presentation, entitled “SciGirls Code: A National Connected Learning Computer Science Model“, shares details from a pilot program that uses principles of connected learning with 16 STEM outreach partners across the country to provide 160 girls and their 32 leaders with computational thinking and coding skills. Scharber is leading the research component of the program which investigates the ways in which computational learning experiences impact the development of girls’ computational thinking, interest, and attitudes toward computer science.

SciGirls Code is a collaboration between Twin Cities Public Television, the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), and the Learning Technologies Media Lab in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Now in its fourth year, the annual showcase will feature over 200 innovative projects aimed at improving STEM learning and teaching, which have been funded by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies. During the weeklong, event researchers, practitioners, policy makers and members of the public are invited to view the short videos, discuss them with the presenters online, and vote for their favorites. Last year’s STEM for All Video Showcase has had over 51,000 unique visitors from over 189 countries.

 Learn more about research in the Learning Technologies Media Lab.


C&I alumnus honored as “Partner of the Year” for her community engagement work

Jen Vanek, a 2017 graduate of the Ph.D. program in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is being recognized for her community-engaged research with the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN). As part of her research dissertation, Vanek worked on the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment project, which provides an online, self-guided assessment of basic computer skills. She also developed the complementary Digital Homeroom program that trained AmeriCorps members to teach adult refugee and immigrant learners digital literacy skills through computer classes in community-based organizations. Vanek designed the modules to ensure the needs of the learners were met effectively after assessing the challenges adult English language learners faced with digital literacy. She also secured funding to sustain the program and to train new AmeriCorps members to use it effectively.

Along with Vanek, her collaborators on the NorthStart Digital Literacy Assessment will be recognized as the SPNN “Partner of the Year” for their commitment to improving lives through digital literacy and advancing community engagement.

Learn more about second language education research, technology in education research, and the Ph.D. in Second Language Education program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.





C&I senior wins 2018 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award

Esther Okelola (left) with President Kaler and academic adviser Anna Schick

Aarinola Esther Okelola, an elementary education foundations major and TESL minor, received the 2018 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award (PSLA). The PSLA recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. It is presented to approximately one-tenth of one percent of the student body for their exceptional leadership and service to the University of Minnesota and the surrounding community.

Okelola was also a TRIO McNair scholar this past year where she was supported in her academic research focusing on disciplinary practices in schooling and how those can impact K-12 students’ academic achievement.

She plans to continue in the department as a master’s of education student in the elementary education and teaching licensure program, and eventually get her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership.

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

Two C&I graduates recognized as 2018 CEHD Rising Alumni

Two alumni from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Paul Ambrosier and Josh Pauly, were honored as 2018 CEHD Rising Alumni. Each year, the CEHD Alumni Society recognizes rising alumni from across the college who have achieved early distinction in their careers, demonstrated emerging leadership, or shown exceptional volunteer service in their communities.

Paul Ambrosier

Paul Ambrosier graduated with a master’s of education in elementary education in 2006 and a bachelor’s of science in elementary education foundations in 2004. He currently teachers fourth grade at Franklin Elementary School in the Anoka Hennepin School District. He is recognized as a mentor to students and his colleagues, as well as a volunteer coach at his school.

Josh Pauly

Josh Pauly received his master’s of education in social studies education in 2014. He went on to teach in the public schools, found the non-profit PeopleSourced Policy, a nonpartisan organization working to increase access and engagement in the political process, and is the executive director of Books on Wings, a nonprofit organization that provides culturally relevant books to underserved students in grades K-3. He also actively volunteers with organizations across the metro including the Islamic Resource group, the Citizens’ League, Project Home, and Civic Caucus.

Pauly credits social studies professors J.B. Mayo and Pat Avery with helping him find his voice and prepare for his career as an educator.

Congratulations to our C&I Rising alumni for their accomplishments! We look forward to following them as they continue in their careers.

Learn more about the master’s of education in teaching programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.




C&I Ph.D. candidate wins competitive P.E.O. Scholar Award

Jeanna Wieselmann, a Ph.D. candidate in STEM Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the highly competitive P.E.O. Scholar Award for the 2018-2019 academic year. Wieselmann was one of 100 winners selected from 741 applicants to receive the $15,000 award based on her scholarship, academic achievement, and career goals. P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women. The P.E.O. Scholar award is specifically for women within two years of completing a doctoral level degree.

Wieselmann is studying gender equity in STEM Education and has been the recipient of a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship, as well as a WPLC graduate award.

Learn more about the STEM Education Ph.D. program and research in STEM Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

TESL minor students wins the Critical Language scholarship to study abroad

Sydney Michael, a junior in the  Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) minor, received the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship. The award offers students the opportunity to take part in intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences abroad as part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. The scholarship is highly competitive, with less than ten percent of applicants accepted.

Michael, an Asian Languages and Literature major, will use the scholarship to study Japanese for eight to ten weeks in the environmentally conscious town of Hikone.

“I’m hoping this experience abroad in a society that differs from American society will help me develop my intercultural competence and allow me to become a better global citizen in today’s hyper-connected world,” Michael says.

She credits her coursework for preparing her to study abroad, especially CI 3613 which focuses on intercultural communications. “Much of what I’ve learned from class has positively impacted my life as a language learner, improved my communicative competence, and generally prepared me to live a fulfilling life as a global citizen.”

Learn more about the Second Language Education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Elementary Education student Demaris Johnson is driven to improve lives children’s lives through classroom connections

demaris johnson elementary education studentDemaris Johnson changed her major to Elementary Education Foundations when she realized that connecting with children in the classroom was the best way she could make a positive impact in their lives. Through her practicum experience, she found a job that let her grow professionally and prepare for her own classroom.

What drove you to enroll in the program?

I previously attended two other institutions before UMN and when I was looking to leave my last school I saw how amazing the curriculum was for this program and the offering of the grad year was a huge opportunity so I immediately applied.

When did you realize you wanted to be a teacher?

I realized it my freshman year of college when I started a degree in biology and sociology to be a child psychiatrist. I realized It was not the science of it that mattered as much as the connections with children and making an impact. I knew I could make more of an impact with a larger group of children and could work more with the demographic of students I want to be working with.

What do you hope to get out of your educational experience?

I hope to get a lot of great teaching strategies and make connections at a variety of schools. It is nice being able to work at several different elementary schools in the Minneapolis area.

Were there any surprises and challenges along the way?

My first semester here I was able to do a practicum at a school that actually offered me a part-time job the following year. When I decided to take a year off they actually offered me a full-time job and let me create my own position. That allowed me to cater my job to the areas that I wanted to grow in. I could tell that this school was partnered with UMN for a reason and they really want to help you through all steps of your journey. It has been amazing seeing how the program supports students through their school connections.

What has been your experience with the faculty?

I have had so many amazing professors and instructors. I can tell they all really care about their field and are dedicated to the teaching profession. When I first came to UMN a group of faculty members actually asked to meet with me before school started. They asked me questions and were genuinely interested in me as a student and why I wanted to be a teacher. Everyone has been so supportive.

Do you feel the coursework and student teaching helped you to begin teaching in your own classroom?

Yes, absolutely. I am able to see a wide variety of teaching styles; Nno one tells you exactly what type of teacher to be. They offer suggestions and show their own way and point out important things to remember. I like that everything is not overly structured because it is not going to be that way when we are really teaching.

Learn more about the degree and licensure programs in Elementary Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.



Three C&I alumni finalists for MN Teacher of the Year

Three alumni of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) are finalists for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. This prestigious award, sponsored by Education Minnesota, selects one teacher to represent Minnesota’s thousands of excellent educators. Out of a field of twelve finalists, C&I is proud to claim the following teaching program alumni:

The selection panel will meet again in early May for individual interviews and to cast their votes. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

We are so proud of all our alumni and the teachers we’ve trained to pursue educational excellence. Congratulations to the three finalists!

Learn more about teacher training programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Read about the 2017 MN Teacher of the Year and C&I alumnus, Corey Bulman.

Grinage, Rombalski receive Curriculum Inquiry writing fellowship

Abby Rombalski (left) and Justin Grinage (right) received the Curriculum Inquiry fellowship.

Teaching Specialist and Licensure Program Lead for English Education Abby Rombalski and Postdoctoral Associate Justin Grinage of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction were recently selected for the 2018 Curriculum Inquiry Writing Fellowship and Writer’s Retreat. The award supports advanced doctoral students, recent graduates, and junior faculty who are contributing to new directions in curriculum studies, particularly those that emphasize critical, anti-oppressive, decolonizing, Indigenous, queer, disability, or other approaches that interrupt normative approaches to curriculum.

During their time at the retreat, scholars will work with faculty and members of the Curriculum Inquiry editorial team to develop a manuscript that will be considered for publication in the Curriculum Inquiry Journal. Rombalski and Grinage will travel to Toronto in June for the writing program along with six other winners.

Learn more about research in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I Ph.D. candidate wins award for applied linguistics research

Leah Shepard-Carey, a Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education, recently received the Graduate Student Award from the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL). The award is granted based on the academic merit of the student’s proposal in applied linguistics or a related field. Shepard-Carey was nominated by her advisor, Professor Martha Bigelow.

Shepard-Carey’s proposal explores the inference-making processes of second-grade English learners in her English-as-an-additional language classroom. Her results highlight the interactions between peers and teachers and the context of their inferences in the literacy  classroom. Her research has implications for culturally-sustaining approaches to teaching and assessing reading comprehension.

Previous University of Minnesota winners include Karin Goettsch (1999), Noriko Ishihara (2004) and Beth Dillard Paltrineri (2016).

Learn more about second language education degrees and programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and graduate second language education research.

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.

Second Language Education Ph.D. candidate receives Outstanding Dissertation Award

Jenna Cushing-Leubner, a Ph.D. candidate in the Second Language Education program, recently received the 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Critical Educators for Social Justice (CESJ) Special Interest Group (SIG) within the American Educational Research Association (AERA). This award is given out to one standout emerging student each year who deserves to be recognized for their work on their dissertation. This year, given the number of standout applicants, the committee chose to honor two students. This included C&I’s own Cushing-Leubner, who was advised by Martha Bigelow throughout the dissertation process.  There will be a business meeting at AERA on April 15 to formally honor her.

Learn more about the academic degree programs in Second Language Education.

Immersion in online learning community opens up career opportunities for educator

susan stephanSusan H. Stephan was an adjunct law professor when she entered the Online Learning certificate program. Her experience in the program helped her to successfully teach online courses, then enter a new position as the Associate Dean of Graduate and Online Programs at the NSU Shepard Broad College of Law in Fort Lauderdale.

What drove you to enroll in the program?

I am very interested in online graduate education, particularly in the legal arena. When I enrolled in the program, I had been teaching as an adjunct professor of law since 2001, and starting two years ago I had the opportunity to start teaching online. I had not had exposure to pedagogy related to online education, so I thought the certificate program would be a good start.

How did the program help with your career and/or professional development?

I have been extremely happy with my decision to complete the Certificate in Online Learning. I learned so much in each class that I took, and I use aspects of my certificate education every day. In large part due to the background the program provided, I have had several opportunities to speak at local and national conferences regarding topics of online learning, particularly as it relates to legal education. The program also was invaluable preparation for my new role as Associate Dean of Graduate and Online Programs. The foundation I received in distance education has made me a much better administrator and instructor.

Were there any surprises and challenges along the way?

One surprise was how comfortable I felt as part of the community of graduate students in my courses. The diverse backgrounds of the other learners made for a rich online classroom environment. Although keeping up with coursework remotely while working full time and teaching was a challenge at times, I so enjoyed the classes and assignments that I always found time to engage and stay focused on my education.

What has been your experience with the faculty?

I truly enjoyed working with every faculty member in my classes. Each one brought a different background, style, and perspective to the subject matter, and I feel that this created a well-rounded education. I have to give a shout-out to Dr. Angel Pazurek, who taught the first course in which I enrolled; her exemplary engagement, content knowledge and positive support set the tone for a successful and enriching experience. But I learned so much from each professor, and I was impressed with all of them.

Which aspect of the program or course did you find most valuable?

Going into the program, I was thinking that the end result of a certificate would be most valuable, in terms of my career goals. But as is turns out, it was the day-to-day learning process and the experience of immersion in the online community that contributed most to my professional development.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

A good indication of how much I enjoyed my experience is that I immediately joined the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. I look forward to continuing involvement with the U!

Would you recommend this program to others?

I would highly recommend the Certificate program in Online Distance Learning to anyone who will be involved in designing, teaching in, or otherwise administering online educational programs. I found the educational experience at the University of Minnesota rewarding and valuable.

Learn more about Learning Technologies programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I Emerging Scholars conference highlights student research

The annual C&I Emerging Scholars conference, sponsored by C&I’s graduate student group, CIGSA, continues to grow as it meets a need to showcase student research. This year’s conference on Friday, April 6, will offer 65 research presentations ranging from roundtables to posters to talks that highlight student research in any aspect of curriculum and instruction. Students, faculty, and staff outside of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are also presenting and encouraged to attend.

The conference theme is “Reimagine Education: A Collective Responsibility.” Keynote speaker, Peter Demerath,  an associate professor in OLPD, will kick off the conference followed by breakout sessions and a poster presentation. The day will wrap up with networking and an ice cream social.

Formerly, the C&I conference was known as C&I research day and organized in a poster presentation format. Reconfiguring the event as a conference has helped graduate students build their professional CV’s and gain presentation experience while building a student support network and research community. However, the conference is not just for graduate students. Undergraduate students are encouraged to attend and submit research. (The submission deadline has passed for this year’s event).

Registration is free and includes a catered lunch and access to all events and presentations. The conference start at 11 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m., but attendees are not required to be there for the entire program. Keynote is in Peik gym, poster session in Peik 45.

C&I students interested in getting involved with the CIGSA or attending upcoming CIGSA events can visit the CIGSA website or send them an email.

Learn more about student research in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I faculty, educators, and teachers take action in response to school shootings

Photo courtesy of Education Minnesota

Educators and students across Minnesota are mobilizing in response to the recent school shootings. As a community of educators, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota is responding with ways students, faculty, and staff can get involved to protect students and teachers, and keep schools safe.

Department chair, Cynthia Lewis affirms support for our students, “We also want to honor the important work of being a teacher and teacher educator and the strength of all students/youth — from Black Lives Matter and all of the long histories of youth of color speaking out against gun violence to the youth of Stoneman Douglas High School working hard to change minds about gun control.”

The department is extending an open invitation to take action, for students, faculty, and staff to join and take action against gun violence with the following action steps with the goal to show their support for students in a quest for change.

  • A structured Flipgrid response to use in your classrooms as you and your students wish to participate.https://flipgrid.com/0b8526
  • #EnoughisEnough Syllabus: Responding to School Violence in the Classroom.  This ongoing google doc is awaiting your contributions and is meant to eventually serve as a resource for individual readings or creating units for your courses.
  • A Teach-In (date in April TBA) with a focus on information (gun control policy and action; responses to school drills, etc.), critical pedagogy approaches, masculinities and violence, and responses from educators and students. Please send a note to CIinfo@umn.edu if you are interested in being a member of the planning group.

In addition, you can join the student chapter of Education Minnesota for upcoming marches against gun violence in schools. Contact edmn@umn.edu to find out how you can take part in the Minnesota March for Our Lives on March 24 at 10:00 a.m. at the Minnesota State Capitol. Stop by on Friday, March 23, for  a “cookies and conversion” meeting for CEHD students to talk about the impact of recent events and to make signs for the march. Visit their Facebook or Twitter pages for more information.

Elementary education major Michelle Diaz is driven to understand the issues affecting urban students

michelle diazMichelle Diaz, elementary education foundations major and racial justice in urban schooling minor (RJUS), talks about what she learned from high school students through her service learning placement.

What drove you to enroll in the RJUS minor program?

I enrolled in the minor after taking CI 3101 “Issues in Urban Education” as a recommendation from my advisor. The course material was extremely interesting and left me wanting more. I was easily able to relate the topics learned to other courses I took for my major in elementary education. Overall, I think it goes hand in hand with my major.

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

So far I have found the service-learning experience the most valuable. While taking CI 3101 I was placed in a high school after-school program where I had some of the most meaningful and engaging conversations about current issues in society and education in urban schools. The group of high schoolers and cooperating teacher I worked with were extremely passionate about team building, empowerment, and creating future leaders. They welcomed me into their group and taught me that age does not matter when it comes to creating awareness. It is definitely an experience I will never forget.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to find a job at a school in the city. I also plan on returning to the U to complete my master’s degree.

What do you hope to get out of the minor?

The most important thing I hope to get out of this minor is understanding how to be sensitive with issues that could be affecting my future students’ lives outside of my classroom. It will help me create meaningful relationships with my students and their families to be educated on these issue so I understand where they are coming from and if there is anything I can do to make their experience in my classroom the best possible.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

My experience so far with not only the courses, but also the service learning component in the minor, have been great. I think it really helps to volunteer at a school while learning about issues in urban schooling because you get firsthand experience. I also think that these courses and the minor are great for everyone that will be either in the education fields or simply a part of the urban community. It truly is a great minor for all who are interested in racial justice.

Learn more about the elementary education foundations major and the racial justice in urban schooling minor.

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.