Quarterly Learning Luncheon
November 15, 2021, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm CST
Language is the key, opening the door to success for new immigrants.
Building Peaceful Bridges (BPB) is delighted to host Evanston Township High School’s (ETHS) World Languages and Bilingual Department Chair, Rachel D’Onofrio, and ESL Teacher, Katie Kelly, to speak about the Bilingual Education Program at ETHS. This Virtual Quarterly Luncheon will be held on Monday November 15th, at 12:00 PM.
BPB is combining its Learning Luncheon and Reading Refuge Book Club this 4th Quarter. Our books in 2021 have been focused on adult refugee journeys. The November 15th Learning Luncheon discussion will introduce us to high school refugee life and the priority of learning English. BPB Bridge Builders know the immense importance of these educators. They witness first hand the influence these teachers have on the high school students in the families they mentor.
The heightened surge of new immigrants, from Afghan evacuees to the Biden Administration’s increased refugee admittance cap of 125,000, raises the need to support English Language Learning programs. Evidence shows that learning English is imperative to integration. English language proficiency provides job opportunities, enables socialization and supports community building.
One population that often faces challenges with belonging is high school students who do not have the English language skills nor the understanding of the culture. They face barriers to making connections with their American-born peers. Bilingual Education teachers not only teach English to new immigrants, but also mentor them in their new environment and help them embrace their culture and identity.
Rachel D’Onofrio is a former Spanish teacher of 13 years and is in her tenth year as the World Languages/Bilingual Department Chair at Evanston Township High School. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, her master’s and her certificate of advanced study from National-Louis University, and is a current doctoral student at DePaul University. Included in her department chair responsibilities, As Department Chair, included in her responsibilities is advocating for English Learners in various arenas throughout the school, including scheduling, student services, and connecting them to schoolwide supports.
Katie Kelly is an ESL and Spanish teacher at Evanston Township High School. After teaching and getting a master’s degree from the Universidad de Alcalá in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. She started her career at ETHS as a bilingual paraprofessional, working with refugee students. She went on to earn her teaching license and a master’s degree in education from DePaul University. She has taught all levels of ESL and advocates for English Learners in various areas including connecting with other teachers, getting involved in school, ACCESS testing and school wide supports.