Karina Escajeda has over 20 years of experience with staff development and language learners at all grade levels. She has worked in both public and private schools in the United States, as well as in Mexico, Honduras, and Japan. Her BA in Linguistics led to MA programs first in Applied Linguistics, and then later, in Educational Administration. She has taught multiple grade levels, high school Spanish, and has been a Literacy Specialist, in addition to a stretch as an assistant Head of School. Her focus in all classroom environments has been on engaging marginalized students and creating supportive, safe learning communities. Her current focus is on learner engagement through increased family involvement and improved school-home relationships. Karina will be based in Thessaloniki from January to June of 2020, studying the integration and second language instruction of refugees who have received asylum within Greece.
Inquiry Project: Effective Educational Partnerships and Community Outreach to Integrate Asylees
Karina hopes to address three questions that pertain to communities in Greece as well as her own community in Maine. First, what can be learned from asylees in Greece to better understand generalities about the refugee experience into a new community after a mass-migration event? Second, how can we better equip teachers to appropriately present content to language learners while second language skills continue to develop? Third, how can partnerships with outside organizations provide beneficial supports and services to asylee students in under-resourced schools? Karina approaches this inquiry as an educator within her school district, and also as a board member of the Capital Area New Mainers Project, an organization that supports “New Mainers” through several different initiatives such as language tutoring, mentor family partnerships, school liaisons, and fundraising. Between 2012 and 2019, Augusta, Maine (population 18,900) has become home to a vibrant community of Iraqi and Syrian families, and Arabic speakers now comprise about 5% of the population. Over the years, the Augusta English Language Learner (ELL) program has grown and taken on an increasingly visible role of community education, collaboration, and student and staff development related to helping the larger community understand the refugee experience. It is her hope that through thoughtful conversations and research into best practices, improved perception and reception of asylees will result. She is honored to be hosted by Aristotle University and will reside (when she is not travelling extensively throughout the country to many different communities) in Thessaloniki.