Wayne State University College of Education awarded nearly $2.3 million to increase number of bilingual and English as a second language educators

The Wayne State University College of Education was recently awarded nearly $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education. The college’s Division of Teacher Education will use the funds to implement Sustaining Community Knowledge and Language Practices for Educational Equity: Developing (SEED) Pathways for Teachers of Bi/Multilingual Students. The five-year professional development and mentoring initiative will provide 110 educators with the training and resources they need to obtain teaching endorsements in bilingual education and English as a second Language (ESL), preparing them to teach, engage and support multilingual learners and their families.

photo of Christina DiNicolo
Christina DeNicolo

“SEED was designed in partnership with school districts to create sustainable support mechanisms for teachers as they learn to teach multilingual students through culturally and linguistically sustaining practices,” said Christina DeNicolo, associate professor of bilingual and bicultural education and principal investigator. “Through taking courses that are aligned with on-going mentorship, SEED Scholars will be part of a community that will enhance their sense of belonging in their districts, while simultaneously supporting them to develop practices to establish school belonging for multilingual students and families. SEED Scholars will implement evidence-based practices while building on students’ prior knowledge and language practices.”

The project is a collaboration between three school districts — Crestwood School District, Oakland Schools and Ypsilanti Community Schools — to increase the statewide pool of bilingual and ESL teachers endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education, participants’ skills in family-community engagement, and educators’ knowledge of equity-oriented instructions and resources. The project will engage 60 pre-service teachers endorsed in bilingual education and 50 in-service teachers endorsed in bilingual education or ESL. The 110 scholars will complete seven bilingual education or ESL courses in five semesters, with support from instructional coaches and community mentors.

photo of Kathryn Roberts
Kathryn Roberts

“What’s unique about this program is the focus on families, communities and belonging—all cornerstones of not only learning but also general well-being,” said Kathryn Roberts, professor of reading, language and literature; interim dean of the Division of Teacher Education; and co-principal investigator. “Although we are providing the required coursework for certification, students will also have powerful support networks through collaborations rooted in schools and communities.”

There are approximately 95,000 students in Michigan schools identified as English learners with a wide range of prior learning experiences and home languages. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has identified teachers trained to work in bilingual education and ESL program as an acute shortage area. SEED addresses the critical shortage of bilingual and ESL teachers in Michigan and promotes the use of research-based practices for family and community engagement. It also advances equity and access in four areas: school belonging, culturally and sustaining practices, evidence-based instruction, and family and community engagement.

"We are excited and thankful to Wayne State University to be part of this grant opportunity that will allow us to expand opportunities for our current and future teachers,” said Youssef Mosallam, superintendent of the Crestwood School District. “These opportunities will allow us to meet the needs of our students and community."

“The SEED Pathway Project aligns with two areas of need in the Ypsilanti Community Schools –our growing newcomer population and the shortage of teachers trained in bilingual education and English as a second language,” said Carlos Lopez, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of the Ypsilanti Community Schools. “Additionally, this partnership will provide support for building on community knowledge across the district, staffing for the Spanish/English dual language immersion program and mentorship for teachers.”

Additional faculty experts from the college’s Division of Teacher Education who will be involved in SEED include Sandra Gonzales, associate professor of bilingual and bicultural education; Theodoto Ressa, assistant professor of special education; and Min Yu, associate professor of comparative and international education and social studies education. Faculty experts will share their research on belonging, multilingualism, and inclusivity as it relates to students’ intersectional identities and learning in U.S. schools.

The project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), which seeks to ensure that English learners and immigrant students attain English proficiency and achieve academic success. OELA also preserves heritage languages and cultures and promotes opportunities for all students to develop biliteracy or multiliteracy skills.

This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education (award #T365Z220053. The U.S. Department of Education is funding 97% of this project, totaling $2,289,939. The remaining 3% of the project will be funded by Wayne State University.

Media contact:
Tracy A. Boyce

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