MAY 17, 2013
The Immigrant Integration Lab in the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and the Center for Optimized Student Support in the Boston College Lynch School of Education co-hosted an event on May 10, 2013, that brought together experts from the fields of education and immigration.
Panelists spoke on the obstacles and opportunities facing immigrant children in the world of education. Among those on the panel was Westy Egmont, Director of the Immigrant Integration Lab. He addressed some of the issues with the new immigration reform bill in Congress, bringing attention to the fact that the 800-page document does not dedicate any support of immigrant education.
"If we assist the family, we see the difference between high and low success rates," Egmont stated. "When we address the whole person and create an affirming environment, we see remarkable success."
Usha Tumala-Narra, Counseling, Developmental and Educational Psychology Professor at Boston College, spoke on her research project studying the coping methods of 9th and 10th grade immigrant students in Massachusetts. Her study revealed common trends among students such as a strong sense of ethnic identity, a low likelihood of immigrant students to seek mental health services, and continuous encounters with discrimination.
As School Site Coordinator of City Connects, Nicole Robinson shared her experiences working with immigrant children and their families in the education system. She emphasized the importance of proper transitions for families whose children are bounced between English language immersion classrooms and the public school system. Care of students outside of class is impactful in closing the achievement gap.
Vera Johnson, Director of the Newcomer Assessment and Counseling Center in Boston, spoke about initiatives the center instituted to help foster English language learning among students and their parents. The center started teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages classes specifically geared towards parents in order for them to better assist their children in school, is training families on how to use technology at home, and is helping immigrant families find access to low cost computers and other technology.
Eric Dearing, Director of the Center for Optimized Student Support in the Boston College Lynch School of Education, organized the symposium as a link between City Connects and his evidence-based research that documents the role of out-of-school support in achieving successful academic goals.