SEAL 2021 Spring Newsletter

June 9, 2021
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Dear SEAL Partners,As this extraordinary school year comes to a close, we at SEAL are filled with so much awe and respect for how hard our educator partners have worked, continuing to prioritize the needs of Dual Language/English Learners, along with all their most vulnerable students. Thank you!

And as we begin looking ahead to the next post-pandemic phases, we all must ask ourselves– how can we channel the lessons we’ve learned and the implications of the last year and a half, to create real opportunities to redesign and reimagine what public education can and should be?

As we move more fully to in-person learning this summer and next fall, we must keep equity at the forefront of our efforts. How can we seize the opportunities for transformation, to address the long-standing opportunity gaps that have been especially prevalent for Dual Language/English Learner communities during the pandemic?

To that end, the SEAL team has been hard at work developing high-quality resources and tools meant to support returning students and families. These resources are among the many efforts happening at SEAL as we continue to expand our organization, working to create the most powerful learning environments and systems where children engage together in rigorous, joyful, content, and language-rich learning.

I wish you all some rest and rejuvenation after this long and complicated school year, you deserve it!In partnership,Dr. Anya Hurwitz

SEAL in the Field!

The 2021 spring semester proved to be extremely busy for the SEAL team. We are proud to share some of the highlights of the last several months:

  • The SEAL team had an active March! We facilitated three sessions on “Making Language Visible, Tangible & Comprehensible” which was attended by 151 early educators. One participant said, “Thank you for all the new, wonderful, and meaningful information you are providing. This helps teach with intentionality and so grateful that your team has created such wonderful tools, skills, and resources to guide us through this journey.”
  • In April, the SEAL team presented at the Capital Region Inaugural 2021 Virtual Multilingual-English Learner Leadership Symposium. The event focused on developing capacity for teacher, site, and central office leaders in support of more effectively meeting the needs of all language learners in their classrooms, schools, and districts.
  • SEAL staff completed session 4 of our ELD Institute, and delivered the first one to Sacramento and Yolo County Offices of Education as a part of the EL RISE! project (CDE funded EWIG). Participants made it clear that the SEAL #dreamteam absolutely rocked it!
  • In June we released our SEAL “Welcoming & Affirming Community Toolkits” for use in summer and fall classrooms. These Toolkits are designed to centralize the needs of English Learners by providing rigorous language-based instructional units that attend to both the socio-emotional needs of students and prioritize strong family partnerships. There are resources for administrators to use with their staff and the full school community.

Up Next…

  • SEAL will be growing within the LA region through a generous three-year investment from the Ballmer Group that is anchoring this expansion effort! Over the next three years, four cohorts of preschool/TK teachers and one cohort of Kinder through 3rd-grade schools will be trained in the SEAL model. We are so excited to grow our reach in LA, and we will announce the district and preschool program partners in the near future.
  • SEAL is in the process of rolling out six Teacher Preparation Learning Cycles (TPLCs). The TPLCs leverage SEAL’s proven professional development model in an effort to ensure that new teachers are prepared to meet the needs of English/Multilingual Learners on day one. The Cycles are designed to construct coherent learning experiences for teacher candidates by bridging the gap that often exists between university preparation and the student-teaching experience.

SEAL media highlights!

Since the beginning of the year, SEAL has worked in collaboration with New America to publish articles on current issues pertaining to English Learners in early education. Our final blog in the 3-part series highlights how critical family outreach is to the success of our young English Learners as they return to in-person instruction.

Now more than ever it is imperative to advocate for culturally and linguistically relevant content and uplift the educators that are engaging in this meaningful work. Check out all three blogs below:

Family Outreach is a Key Pillar of Support as English Learners Transition Back to In-person Instruction Amid Pandemic Concerns

May 26, 2021

Districts leaders look beyond the pandemic as they prioritize dual language programs and resources for English learners

April 8, 2021

Teachers Lean on Each Other to Rise Above and Beyond During Pandemic to Support Dual Language Learners

Jan. 27, 2021

Other media highlights!

  • EdSource recently quoted SEAL Executive Director, Dr. Anya Hurwitz in their article on bilingual programming. Our district partners, Newark Unified and LAUSD are also featured. SEAL has been working extensively with Newark Unified to support the launch of its new dual language immersion program.
  • SEAL Executive Director spoke to EdSource on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 revised budget for K-12 and early education.
  • SEAL is featured in a New America article about utilizing COVID relief funding to support English Learners. Check out the “do’s” and “don’ts” of maximizing their ability to boost ELs’ learning.
  • Check out Californians Together‘s great article, “Expanded Learning Opportunity Grants: Recommendations for Making them Work for English Learners.” SEAL is highlighted!
  • Our latest EdSource commentary, titled ‘Districts should focus on finding California’s missing kindergarteners, especially English learners‘ was co-authored by Martha Hernandez from Californians Together and SEAL Executive Director, Dr. Anya Hurwitz. It addresses equity challenges faced by English learners and the importance of doubling down on effective practices in the classroom — not just focusing on interventions and foundational skills. Check out the 4 essential elements of an equity-focused approach to supporting English learners in the classroom as cited by EdSource below:

4 Essential Elements of an Equity-focused Approach to Supporting English Learners in the Classroom

(as cited by EdSource)

New faces at SEAL!

Join us in welcoming our newest SEAL board member and additions to the staff!

Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D, Trustee

A champion of equitable education and opportunities for all students, Feliza currently serves as Chief Policy & Advocacy Officer at Latinos for Education. She was formerly the Principal of Education Programs at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

In her current capacity, Feliza oversees the education data & research team, the family and community engagement work, leadership fellowships, and the K-16 portfolio of programs that fall under the following areas: leadership development, STEM, college and career readiness and post-secondary programs.

Feliza holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in Political Science, a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley in City and Regional Planning, and a doctoral degree in Education Leadership from the University of California, Irvine. In 2015, Governor Brown appointed Feliza to the CA State Board of Education where she served as a Board Member for five fulfilling years.

Robert Cramer, Systems and Data Support Manager

  • Previously worked at Valley Montessori School as their IT Manager/Director of Technology.
  • A United States Air Force Veteran who has traveled to 25 countries.
  • Once snowboarded in the Alps from Austria to Switzerland and back.
  • Made it on American Idol twice!

Paula Motas, Production Manager

  • Previously worked as an event planner for a technological company in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Has skydived and rappelled 10 stories down into a cave
  • Once swam with sharks!

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