Think Bilingual Austin will be there hosting several workshops and activity table at this event. Come by and say “hello”. Here is is a document in Spanish with important tips on how families can promote bilingualism. Consejos para ayudar a las familias a ser bilingües.
“La importancia de hablar dos idioma.” por Univision.
Languages other than English (LOTE) instruction has continued to decline for students in public elementary and middle school over the past decades (click here for more details of this trend). With tighter budgets directly tied to performance on standardized achievement tests, many administrators view LOTE programs as unnecessary for academic success, especially for districts in which the majority of the students already speak the dominant language, English. As a consequence, the lack of academic value that is assigned to second language learning in these early grades have made these programs easy targets for budget cuts. This is occurring at a time when more and more studies show the cognitive and social emotional benefits of second language learning. As a result, many informed parents have begun to organize to put pressure on their local districts to offer LOTE programs in early education and elementary school. Their efforts have slowly begun to payoff.
How Parents Unite to Bring Second Language Instruction to their Local Schools:
PTA Funded In-School Programs
In wealthy districts like Tarrytown and Barton Hills in Austin Texas, where median household income is more than $84,000, many PTA groups have been successful at organizing fundraisers to self-finance language learning programs to benefit all students in their district. Some of these PTA funded programs have been successful at sustaining their LOTE programs. However, many PTA funded programs like this often begin strong only to fizzle out within a few years later. We found that the success of PTA funded LOTE programs are limited to and highly dependent upon three key factors:
(1) the cohesiveness of the PTA’s stance on LOTE programs,
(2) the PTA’s fundraising abilities, and
(3) the willingness of the school administration to set aside time in the school day for language instruction that does not crowd out other important programs (including recess).
After-School Second Language Learning Classes
In wealthy districts where one of these three measures fail to hold, many parents opt to simply bring after-school language learning programs to the school so that the parents who want language learning can directly pay for their child to have language learning classes after regular school hours. Such after-school programs have become increasing popular and are more commonly found in wealthier school districts. Despite welcomed increase growth, these LOTE programs are fundamentally limited to:
(1) children whose parents understand the value of those programs,
(2) children whose parents have the funds to pay for those programs,
(3) children who can withstand intensive extended instruction time after already being in school for more than 7 hours,
(4) children who do not have competing programs on the days the LOTE programs are offered.
Both of the aforementioned methods to bring LOTE programs to students ( PTA funded in-school classes and parent paid after school programs) rely on the existence of independent private institutions that can be contracted to bring those LOTE programs to the district. The quality of independent programs vary greatly; and because they are expensive, they are often out of reach economically to poorer districts with limited resources and fundraising mechanisms.
Independent Non-Profit for LOTE Instruction In-School
Parents in a moderately wealthy district in Austin created a new alternate route for providing in-school LOTE instruction for each elementary student in their district at a fraction of the cost of the above described outsourcing methods. The parents at Lee Elementary formed a separate non-profit organization called Amigos de Russell Lee to fund and oversee second language instruction in their school.
The benefits of creating a separate non-profit had several immediate benefits.
- One clear benefit was that by removing the funding and oversight of the LOTE instruction from the PTA committees, political infighting within the PTA committees on this topic was hampered. Speaking with two parents who were involved in setting up the non-proft, they explained to me every year, the PTA committee would send out a survey to see if parents were interested in Spanish instruction in their school. The results on the survey were fairly consistent year after year with approximately 75% in favor of Spanish instruction and approximately 25% not in favor. However, these parents found that depending on which parents were involved in the PTA and to what level, the parents that represented the minority could easily curtail the efforts of LOTE instruction within PTA. Thus, by creating the independent non-profit, the organizing and funding for the LOTE program no longer required PTA committee approval or support. Instead, the non-profit is able to work in the interest of the majority of parents who support LOTE instruction through direct outreach and follow-up surveys that demonstrate broad support.
- Another benefit was that it gave the nonprofit leadership direct access to the school administration to hold it more accountable in delivering quality LOTE instruction. Rather than having to work through the PTA, which manages a wide variety of issues, a separate non-profit allows parent representatives to have more effective and direct face time with the principal and the administration staff specifically on LOTE instruction and it allows for the creation of accountability measures to make ensure that the LOTE instruction is being implemented effectively and efficiently.
- Thirdly, the nonprofit was able to collaborate more effectively with administration and staff, which lead to huge cost savings for LOTE instruction. By taking advantage of the fact that many of the teachers at Lee Elementary also have Spanish as a second language, the non-profit and school administration was able to utilize existing teachers to create effective Spanish language instruction for each grade by offering an increased stipend for bilingual education to those teachers, rather than hiring external part-time language instructors. By using existing teachers rather than a private independent organization, parents saved many thousands of dollars per year without sacrificing effective Spanish language instruction.
How to create an effective nonprofit to promote LOTE programs in your school
We asked the parents how might other parents organize to create their own nonprofit to support LOTE instruction in their schools. Here is their response:
Identify Interest in LOTE instruction and build core constituents.
- For Lee Elementary, the annual survey and the long term commitment through PTA fundraising for LOTE instruction demonstrated an existing high level of interest in offering Spanish language instruction to every student. The key to create a nonprofit then was to find the parents who were also interested in taking the group to the next level by forming a core number of constituents. This core number of constituents and broad support based on the surveys demonstrated to the school administration that the parents of Lee students were serious about having an effective Spanish language instruction for Lee students.
Communicate what the goal is right up front.
- At very first meeting the team must define a unifying message. This will require a leader or leaders who can help constituents first identify reasons for LOTE instruction such as cultural or academic exposure and then help unify those reasons under a common actionable goal. For Amigos de Russell Lee the actionable goal is that each student in each grade receives appropriate level of Spanish language instruction beginning with 30 minutes per week with the ultimate goal of reaching 90 minute per week.
Define multiple leadership roles to avoid leadership fatigue.
- With different parents taking on different roles, the burden is shared and more manageable and sustainable. Roles include chair over curriculum development, oversight chair, school administration liaison, secretary. Be sure to have someone to schedule regular meeting to keep momentum alive to achieve goals.
Demonstrate to the school that your organization can fund the initiative.
- Before initiating the creation of a nonprofit, the PTA of Lee Elementary had a long history of fundraising to pay for Spanish language instruction. Yet, in confronting the school administration through this new endeavor, organizers recognized that they could not afford to wait to see what funds they could raise later in the year through fundraising. So to address the issue of funds head on, the nonprofit organizers asked parents in each grade if they would be willing to make a financial pledge and to state what that pledge would be toward Spanish language instruction. The results of a pledge for each grade gave the nonprofit considerable leverage to demonstrate that they not only had the backing of the parents but also that parents were willing to pledge funds to help fund it. With broad parent support and money to fund it, the resistance to promote Spanish language learning in both the administration and PTA diminished.
Despite lower costs to implement, organizing an independent nonprofit still poses significant challenges. First and foremost, it requires parents who already value the learning of a second language and who are willingness to support it financially. It not only requires parents who have both the time and resources to organize and finance the LOTE instruction but also relies on existing teachers to have some level of proficiency to teach in the desired second language. As a result, parents in poorer districts with limited resources and limited parent engagement may find this approach challenging to implement. For this reason, we need to continue to put pressure on public school districts to offer quality access to second language learning for all students beginning in early education and continuing through middle school, regardless of wealth.
Habla Conmigo is a new bilingual preschool enrichment program that will focus on building language and pre-literacy skills in Spanish and English for bilingual children with or at risk for language delays or disorders. The program will consist of 2-hour sessions over 8 weeks incorporating naturalistic activities within thematic units targeting speech and language skills. The program also includes monitoring the child’s speech and language skills in order to determine the need for further evaluation or ongoing therapy.
Habla Conmigo is facilitated by a bilingual speech-language pathologist, Dr. Mirza Lugo-Neris, along with graduate student clinicians to maintain a ratio of 1-2 children per clinician. We are currently enrolling for the next session starting March 2017. The program will run on Fridays 9-11am from March 3-April 28. To register or for pricing information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512-232-1503).
Please click on the link below for the flyer
The link below is Think Bilingual Austin’s recent presentation at NABE 2017 Pre-Conference on how dual language immersion programs, beginning in early childhood and elementary education, can enhance learning and participation in STEAM disciplines.
Black history is a history that has only begun to be told. It is an important history that pertains to us all as we begin to unfurl the truth of the many remarkable and amazing lives of people who shined even under oppressive systems fueled by racism. The triumph of the human spirit over adversity and bondage both humbles and inspires us and strengthens our resolve for better cultural understanding and respect. The beauty and richness in language, music and culture that African Americans from both continents have and continue to bestow are seen everyday in our lives through rhyme, rhythm, complexity, color and grace. Celebrate Black History this month and always.
Events and Activities To Celebrate Black History Month:
KLRU Black History Month: Smokey Robinson: The Library Of Congress Gershwin. In the comfort of home or in a gathering with friends, enjoy watching KLRU’s programs for Black History Month.
United: A Black History Month Boogie. Enjoy music, community and solidarity at the Sahara Lounge.
Black History Month at The Carver: Frederick Douglas Unveiling. “A special unveiling of renowed African American sculptor, Tina Allen, whose work tells the story iconic African Americans. The item is on loan to the museum courtesy of the Berri T. McBride Family Trust.” 1:00 PM.
Black History Month at the Carver: SOUNDS OF YOUNG BLACK AND GIFTED CONCERT. “Youth from all over the Austin Metropolitan area will dance, sing and perform instrumental pieces. Children are the future and they’ve got talent!” 6:30 PM.
On view February 11- July 9:
Black History Month at The Carver: BLACK COMPOSERS CONCERT. “Celebrating the musical contributions of African American Composers!” 4:00 PM.
THE INTERSECTION WITH JAHI OF PUBLIC ENEMY 2.0 YOUTH WORKSHOP. “The Intersection explores the relationship between Hip-Hop and education. Utilizing a variety of media tools Jahi demonstrates how the culturally responsive, family friendly, life affirming elements of Hip Hop culture can be put to use in your home, classroom and community.” 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM.
Black History Month at the Carver: A Crisis in Black Education_Panel Discussion_ “A discussion about the plight of African American students, institutional responses, strides in the education sector and what work lies ahead. Panel Moderator: Ericka Jones, Dean of Student Affairs, Huston-Tillotson University Panelists: Dr. Terrance Eaton, Austin Independent School District, Dr. Colette P. Burnette, President, Huston-TIllotson University, Dr. Chiquita Watt Eugene, Citywide Program Manager, City of Austin.” 6:30 PM.
That’s My Face: Youth and Young Adult Film Series. The screening of “What Happened Miss Simon? 6:30 PM.
FOLKTALES’ BLACK WOMEN’S LITERARY SOCIETY BOOK CLUB MEETING: HIDDEN FIGURES. Join a discussion of “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. 6:00 PM.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH KID’S DAY! “Family event features crafts, stories, and activities meant to introduce kids and families to the importance of Black History Month.” 12:00- 4:00 PM.
Black History Month at the Carver: Vibes and Verses. “A black art slam featuring poetry, performance art, music and dialogue by regional artists.” 7:30 PM.
Black History Month: Family Movie Night_Too Important to Fail. “This documentary deals with the challenges facing African American teenage boys as they navigate their way through adulthood.” 6:30 PM.
KLRU Celebrate Black History Month: Maya Angelou: American Masters. Learn about an amazing inspirational figure and her important contributions to literature and art.
Black History Month 2017: Show Your College Spirit Night. “Local writer Zenobia Orimoloye will inspire students in the community to consider applying to college by telling her story. Join us for a night of sharing by wearing your college gear and telling a little about your college…” 6:30 PM.
Join us in welcoming Dr. Lisa B. Thompson as she reads and performs from her original work.
Lisa Thompson is an Austin-based theatre artist and scholar whose critically acclaimed plays and innovative work explore issues of race, class, sexuality and gender.”
“In Montgomery, Alabama a young writer is eager to get an interview with one of gospel’s greatest legends Mahalia Jackson. Presented by Spectrum Theater, currently in residency at the Carver Museum!”
High Noon Talk: Tomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of Slaveholders. “Tomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of Slaveholders chronicles the history of two Tomlinson families, one black and one white, who trace their history to a Central Texas slave plantation. Join Chris Tomlinson, author, filmmaker and journalist for a discussion about the book and his journey researching and writing it. Following the talk, fans of the Bullock Book Club can enjoy a reception with the author and a viewing of the Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808-1865 special exhibition.” 12:00 PM.
Shortly after I moved to Texas, I met up with my good friend and former college roommate, Stephanie. Stephanie is German and she had moved to Corpus Christi, Texas with her husband one year prior to my moving to Austin. When we first reunited, she told me about an interesting discovery she had made. While sitting in her car stopped at a red light, she heard the same style of music that her grandparents use to listen to when she was a little girl but in a language she couldn’t understand. She looked around to see where the music was coming from and then realized that it was coming from a car next to her. But instead of an old person, she saw a hispanic youth jamming out to the familiar music. That was when Stephanie first discovered that much of Texas culture was indeed an intermixing and cross-pollination of cultures with strong roots from German/Eastern Europe and Mexico. (For more on the history of Tejano music, click here.)
Since the beginning of trade, mankind has been very adept at adopting and redefining cultural ideas, customs, traditions and beliefs through multicultural exchange. In fact, rather than being a product of isolation we are, by our very nature, a product of multiculturalism. Unfortunately, in the name of greed and power, countless people from differing cultures have been persecuted, enslaved and discriminated against. Yet, in spite of it all, many of these same cultures have made and continue to make considerable contributions to our society as a whole.
In rejection to xenophobia and isolationism, let us come together and recognize the value that each group brings. Let us build mutual respect for each other and avoid repeating atrocities to innocent life caused by hatred, discrimination and persecution. Let us connect through our shared values that unite us as humans and discover the beauty in our differences. Let us look through the eyes of others with understanding and find ways to work together regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender and socioeconomic status. Let us be what is so innate to human nature, let us embrace multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is not a rejection of your own culture; but rather it allows you to learn more about your own culture as you also learn about and build respect for the cultures of others. It is important to remember that no culture is without negative aspects and no culture is inherently good. Multiculturalism is also not an open door for accepting human rights abuses and discrimination based on gender, race or socioeconomic status. Rather, multiculturalism beckons you to come with an open mind to appreciate the good in other cultures (as well as your own) with the understanding that no culture is without faults. Moreover, when we embrace multiculturalism, we also open ourselves up to new possibilities, creative expression and insight that we can in turn alter in ways that make it our own— just like the early Tejano musicians did after being exposed to the German and Czech music and adopting the accordion in their musical repertoire.
How to embrace multiculturalism:
Be open to meeting and engaging with people who are from different backgrounds.
- Volunteer with programs that serve the refugee or immigrant communities and other underserved communities;
- Host exchange students and/or families;
- Attend cultural events and celebrations;
- Make a genuine effort to build friendships with others with backgrounds and ethnicities that differ from your own;
- Introduce yourself and your family to books with diverse characters;
- Watch plays, movies and other performing arts with diverse characters who tell their story through acting or song;
- Enjoy trying new types of cuisine from family run restaurants. While you are there, talk to the owners and staff.
Be prepared to be both accepted and rejected:
- While multiculturalism is innate to humans, so is discrimination and tribalism. Regardless of culture, you will always find people who resent any aspect of their culture and/or language being shared with or appropriated by others. This is especially true for cultural groups who have been or continue to be discriminated against. For this reason, mutual respect and cultural understanding are extremely critical for any fruitful multicultural exchange.
- Acknowledge your ignorance. No group of people is without bias. Bias based on media images, ingrained cultural and/or generational prejudices and du jour religious doctrines further fuel our ignorance and reduce other groups to often negative stereotypes. When you meet others from difference cultures, be humble to the fact that until you are intimately connected with that culture, you remain ignorant with preset biases.
Other related links:
Happy New Year! We begin our post this year with five important tips for becoming bilingual combined with posts from previous years to help you and your family learn or enhance your second language throughout 2017.
1. Enroll in a Language Learning Program
Today more and more options are becoming available to help children and adults learn a second language or to become more proficient and bi-literate in their native language. Whether you choose to enroll in a dual-language or bilingual school, take language classes in person or online, or use downloadable applications (or a mixture of the above), one of the most important things to look for in a language learning program is the type of feedback it provides. Look for programs that offer immediate constructive feedback. This type of feedback is important because: (1) it allows language learners to correct and learn from mistakes, (2) it guides and keeps learners on track with their goals, and (3) motivates and energizes continued learning. Conversely, the absent of feedback can be detrimental in language learning because it not only stifles learning but also creates a false picture of a student’s progress, with some students becoming overly critical while others becoming overly confident. As a consequence, the student may become less motivated and more likely to not want to continue.
Other related posts that may be of interest:
2. Create Meaningful Connections
Languages being learned should be relevant and purposeful and tap into our desire to communicate and to connect with others. Both home and school environments are great starting points for language learning. However, to develop language proficiency, language use must also extend beyond the home and school through meaningful relationships with friends and/or relatives, community involvement and activities and other meaningful experiences such as travel. Getting involved in meet-up groups or play groups, volunteering language services in the community and developing meaningful relationships with others who speak the second language are all important ways for both adults and children to enhance their language skills and to connect with others.
For more reading on this topic:
3. Sing and Have Fun
Simple and catchy melodies have been shown to effectively develop phonetic pronunciation in unfamiliar languages and to more effectively improve memory recall for new vocabulary better than other means studied (Ludke, Ferreira, Overly). Singing combined with imagery and context also develops strong word association and language syntax. Moreover, most everyone enjoys singing regardless of age or music ability–making it a perfect tool for language learning and language practice. Most preschool language programs already incorporate singing to help young learners develop language skills. However, given the clear benefits to singing, we encourage children of all ages and adults to engage in singing for continued language development.
For further reading on this topic:
4. Read and Explore
Reading regularly in a second language increases vocabulary and language structure. Even if your family speaks the second language at home, reading in the language enables significant language development by adding context and topics that are not commonly discussed in daily life. Books and stories do not need to be complex for language learners to benefit from reading. Parents who know how to read a second language can read to their child either at or just above the child’s language reading ability. For parents who do not read the second language but whose child is enrolled in a bilingual bi-literacy program, have your child read to you a wide variety of simple books that you can easily understand with pictures to encourage your child to read and teach you. Both of you will significantly increase vocabulary and language knowledge while creating a meaningful shared experience. Thus, no matter if you or your child is a new language learner or someone already proficient in the second language, read regularly on a level that is most comfortable and enjoyable for continued growth and enrichment in the second language.
For further reading on this topic:
5. Engage in Experiential Learning
You cannot learn how to ride a bike unless you actually get on it and try multiple times until you master it. The same applies to language learning. The concept of experiential learning adds to the concept of meaningful connections by extending it to the world we live in and our relationship with it. The exploration of arts, science, technology and social sciences is fundamental in experiential learning. One way to engage in active experiential learning is through developing projects based on inquiry in the language being learned by imploring a variety of disciplines. For example, one may explore the difference in biomes in the language being studied by creating meaningful projects around that study. Such projects may incorporate independent research, dioramas, art, writing, and hands-on experiments. Moreover, engaging in presentations, theatrical plays, dance and other art forms are also important ways to create meaningful experiential learning opportunities to enhance language learning and development while exploring our relationship to others and our environment.
For more ideas on how to create experiential learning opportunities:
Be sure to visit view Icons & Symbols of the Borderland_Exhibit and Nacimientos: Traditional Nativity Scenes from Mexico _Exhibit before both exhibits end on the 29th of this month.
Rearrange your schedule to see the Feature film: “Ixcanul” – Volcano this Friday, January 13, from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm.
Celebrate Los Reyes Magos Celebran Octavitas on January 22 from 2pm to 5 pmat the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
Don’t miss Latin Grammy Award winner, 123 Andrés _ Free Bilingual Children’s Concert! at Cherrywood Coffee House on January 29th from 10 am to 11am. Later that evening enjoy Antonio Dionisio_Brazilian Folk Music at Central Market.
Eat English pastries with tea at INTERNATIONAL NIGHT AT BRENTWOOD SOCIAL HOUSE this Saturday, January 14th. Enjoy the sounds of Ireland with Stone Soup Session_Traditional Folk Music on January 15th, Sean Orr & His Kick Ass Irish Band on January 20th; POOR MAN’S FORTUNE (Traditional Irish music) on January 29th.
Get a taste of France with Alliance Française and CELEBRATE LA GALETTE DES ROIS – LA MADELEINE FRENCH CAFÉ @ MUELLER on January 19th or join in on January 22 for Fourth Sunday Pétanque.
On January 21, travel to Russia via the Scottish Rite to enjoy The 17th Russian Winter Fest.
This Saturday, January 14th, enjoy MAZEL TOV KOCKTAIL HOUR: Klezmer, or Yiddish music at Radio Coffee and Beer Bar. Then, check out the many activities going on this month through the JAAM Fest 2017 _ Jewish Austin Arts & Music Festival. Lastly, delve more deeply in history, culture and more by signing up for Tapestry_ A Day of Jewish Learning held on January 29th.
Learn more about Intriguing Iran at this special event hosted by Global Austin on January 17th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
Don’t miss the SHRADDHA JOSHI PRESENTS “DISPLACED” A DANCE PRODUCTION January 21 from 2 pm to 4 pm about the many world refugees as told through Indian inspired dance. On January 27th, the Georg Washing Carver Museum will host THE GALLERY MIXTAPE: SHAKTI SESSIONS VOL. 1 inspired by the Hindu deity Shakti. The live concert will feature a number of females artists from Austin.
On January 28th, the AMM Makarsankrant – Anand Mela – 2017 food event will be held in Cedar Park.
Be Sure to Celebrate the New Lunar Year in Asia!
2017 TẾT FESTIVAL AUSTIN (Vietnamese Festival on January 21)
CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION (RSVP) on January 25.
Art Smart_Japanese New Year – Cherry Blossom Painting on January 31.
Lunar New Year of the Rooster on February 4th.
2017 Year of the Rooster Celebration on February 5th.
Art Smart_Chinese New Year Dragon on February 7th.
Other International Considerations Before Ending your Trip Around the World:
Learn more about the importance of dual language and bi-literacy education with a Community Conversation with Cheryl Urow/ Conversación comunitaria con Cheryl Urow on January 23 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
We were very fortunate to have two very talented multilingual performing artists perform at the 2016 Bilingual STEAM event, Julie Slim and Roberto German. Both gave their unique perspectives on the importance of being multilingual and multicultural. They shared how being multilingual and multicultural shaped them as a person and their art. For a glimpse of their performances, please see the following youtube video clips. (For email subscribers, please click on the main title or URL link to take you to the website to see videos).
Julie Slim is a Lebanese-American multi-lingual vocalist who sings in Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Turkish and most recently, Bosnian. She is the leader of her band, RendezVous, a quintet specializing in standards from the 1930’s to the 1960’s in French, English, Spanish and Arabic, which she founded in 2013… Focused on world music, she also collaborates with numerous groups in Austin TX, including Indimaj, UT Bereket Middle Eastern Ensemble, Layalina, Austin Global Orchestra, and 1001 Nights Orchestra. She has released a 3-song studio EP, and most recently, a five-song EP recorded live in Austin, TX, and she has recently finished recording her first full LP of French songs with RendezVous.“ Find out more about Julie at www.julieslim.com or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/julieslim
Roberto Germán is a Dominican-American native of Lawrence, Massachusetts. He is a product of Lawrence Public Schools, Central Catholic High School and the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence. He currently is supporting the opening of Magnolia Montessori For All, Austin’s First Public Montessori School, serving as Director of Student Affairs and Services. Previously, he served as Assistant Principal at the Guilmette Middle School in Lawrence, MA. Prior to that he served as Director of Multicultural Affairs and Community Development for seven years at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, MA, where he led the school in fostering a culture that promoted social justice and equity. During his tenure at SJP, he was also a basketball coach and Spanish teacher. Mr. Germán is an alumnus of Andover Bread Loaf and an active member of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. His role within ABL and with the BLTN is at the center of ABL’s educational justice work within the public schools, youth and community organizations. When he was twenty years old, Roberto introduced and led a spoken word movement in the city of Lawrence that took the city by storm from 2001-2003. This movement became the beginning of a writing revolution that inspired young people in the city of Lawrence to find their voices through the arts, particularly spoken word poetry and rap. He accomplished this with his former performing arts group, the Soul Kaliber Movement and by his ability to collaborate with diverse organizations and individuals. His teaching experience includes serving as an English teacher at Lawrence High School and as a Spanish teacher at St. John’s Preparatory School. He holds a Master’s Degree from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education in Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, from Merrimack College.