Monday, June 8, 2015

Our Teacher and Community Grants Recipients Inspire Us

The American Immigration Council is pleased to present the outcomes of our 2014-2015 Teacher and Community Grants. The grant program is an initiative to provide educators and community organizers with the resources they need to implement a successful immigration curriculum or an immigration-themed project. Grants are awarded on a bi-annual basis. The deadline for the next grant is June 29, 2015, so it’s not too late to apply by clicking here.

This year’s grant recipients epitomize both facets of our program in that they offer an easily reproducible Common Core aligned curriculum for teaching about immigration in the classroom as well as fulfilling a civic need for immigrants in the local community through the completion of a student-driven, student-led service project. The awardees are teachers Kerri Fenton and Debra Moreau from Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School, Southington, CT and Delia Lancaster from Saint Joseph Catholic School, Palm Bay, FL. We want to share their work with you to inspire similarly creative, engaging, and rigorous learning on immigration in your own classrooms and communities.

Educate, Celebrate, and Empower: This one-week immigration community outreach project and lesson plan developed by Kerri Fenton and Debra Moreau meets three objectives: 1) to educate students on the experiences of the immigrant population; 2) to celebrate and welcome immigrant students; and 3) to empower all students to implement a social justice project.   

Through research, interviews, reflection, and project-based learning, students wrestle with these essential questions over the course of the project: How do immigrants contribute to our school community? How can we create a welcoming school climate for individuals and their families of diverse backgrounds? What are commonalities and distinctions of immigration experiences?

One student wrote empathetically in response to what she learned that “the guest speakers [featured in this project] opened my mind to how hard it is for immigrants to come to a new country (learning the language, adapting to new culture and ways of life).”  

To view the lesson plan, please click here. Schools are encouraged throughout the year to discuss the diverse contributions of immigrants within their own communities. Some ideas are provided at the end of the lesson plan. Adaptations and extensions are encouraged.  

To read the students’ book review of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival we published, please click here.
Students creating "Welcoming Brochures" using Google Docs

Health First, Protections for Migrant Workers: This video and service-project created by Delia Lancaster brings awareness and assistance to those persons who perform the “unseen” and risky jobs of bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to our tables. As teacher Delia Lancaster says, “What began as a grant funding a simple video project, turned into a significant fundraising and service project, after our students learned of the extreme conditions faced by farm workers who live and work within twenty miles from our own comfortable homes.”  As the students researched, learned, and questioned the community that served them just 20 miles away, they became more invested and engaged to “do something.  

Projects like these can happen organically, when students, teachers, and community members recognize an unmet need and feel compelled to act. This is the heart of social justice and service-learning in action. Take a cue from these students, Ms. Lancaster, and the Saint Joseph Catholic School community for a model of an immigrant-based, service-learning project by learning more about what ended up being a year-long project here.

To watch a short video of their first semester where students interviewed community members and created a news broadcast, please click here.

To watch a follow-up video of their second semester where students initiated and completed a fundraising drive for badly-needed toiletry items, please click here

As a result of their health care drive, students collected 258 hair care products, 507 dental care products, 475 body care products, 22 bottles of sunscreen 146 sticks of deodorant, 20 wide-brimmed hats, 30 pairs of sunglasses, and an assortment of baby products.
Top Photo Adults Pictured from Left to Right: Delia Lancaster, Art Teacher & Enrichment Facilitator, Saint Joseph Catholic School; Colette Heid, Communications Director, Treasure Coast Community Health; Moses Santos, Outreach Director, Treasure Coast Community Health; Claudia Stokes, Principal, Saint Joseph Catholic School

Treasure Coast Community Health Center is a non-profit organization that provides medical, dental and mental health services for people who could otherwise not afford those services. You can visit their website at

Our lesson, Interpreting the Impact of Cesar Chavez’s Early Years, is primary-source, Common-Core aligned lesson that asks students to analyze how Chavez’s own words and early life experiences led to his later achievements that features the news broadcast produced by Saint Joseph Academy students and is an excellent model for social justice in action today.

We invite book reviews written by teachers or students and we offer free lesson plans, resources, and grants to #teachimmigration. Stay connected! Follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration

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