Realizing the Dream:
Promoting Success for
English Learners

Sep 27, 2019
8:00 am - 1:00 pm

About the
Equity Breakfast

4.8 million students in the U.S. are English Learners. Whether they were born here or made their way to America, these students face a myriad of challenges in school. They must become proficient in English while simultaneously understanding and mastering academic content. They may need to learn a new culture and a new school system. And they may be without their families and other social supports. Educators have asked for assistance in their efforts to improve the academic outcomes and overall well-being of English Learners.

The Center for Education Equity @ MAEC has partnered with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Philadelphia, and the Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education at Morgan State University to bring you the second in a series of Equity Breakfast Institutes.

Happy kids – English Learners-crop

Realizing the Dream: Promoting Success for English Learners will offer workshops that discuss:

  • English Learners with a Suspected Learning Disability
  • The Unique Needs of Newcomers
  • The Civil Rights of ELs
  • Bullying & Harassment of ELs

Join us as we dive deeper to explore issues that affect one of our most vulnerable student populations. Discounts available for groups of 3 or more!

Registration Closes Sept. 18!


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September 27, 2019
8:00 am
Breakfast Buffet
8:00 am- 8:30 am
8:30 am
Welcome & Opening Remarks
8:30 am- 9:00 am
• Wendella Fox, Director, Philadelphia Office of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
• Pace McConkie, Director, Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education, Morgan State University
• Dr. Glenda Prime, Dean, School of Education and Urban Studies, Morgan State University
• Maria del Rosario (Charo) Basterra, Vice President, MAEC
• Susan Shaffer, President, MAEC
9:00 am
Keynote Address
9:00 am- 9:45 am
Equity and Quality: Inseparable Elements in Promoting the Success of English Learners
• Aída Walqui, Director of Teacher Professional Development, WestEd

Description: This presentation will elaborate on five principles that define equitable instruction in classrooms where English Learners study alone or alongside native speakers of English. The principles for instruction that guide instruction which simultaneously develops students’ conceptual, analytic and language practices to become community college and career ready in the 21st century will be operationalized and exemplified using video clips from classroom instruction.
10:00 am
Expert Panel
10:00 am- 10:45 am
Panel Moderator:
• Maria del Rosario (Charo) Basterra, Vice President, MAEC
• BethAnn Berliner, Senior Researcher, WestEd
• Elizabeth Burr, Senior Research Associate, WestEd
• Julie Sugarman, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute

Description: This panel will provide attendees with information about some of the critical issues regarding the needs of English Learners.
11:00 am
11:00 am- 12:00 pm

(A) Effective Strategies to Address Immigrant, Refugee, and EL Bullying and Harassment

• Michelle Nutter, Education and Outreach Program Manager/ E&O Civil Rights Outreach Specialist, Office of Public Engagement, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

Description: As schools work to successfully prevent and intervene in acts of bullying, they are often challenged by bullying behaviors that cross the line into civil, civil rights, or criminal law violations. Bullying and harassment that targets immigrants, refugees, and English Learners violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

This session will examine bullying in general, and delve into the problem and prevalence of bullying which targets EL and immigrant students. We will also review the legal ramifications of “deliberate indifference” with regard to failure to address bullying in their schools. Finally, we will conclude with information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to protected class bullying in order to create a safe, supportive, harassment-free school climate.

Participants will:
Identify common elements of bullying, including “protected class” bullying; Examine factors which lead to the prevalence of EL/immigrant/refugee bullying; Critique bullying scenarios to determine if criminal or civil law violations exist

(B) Ensuring Equal Educational Opportunities for English Learners Through Compliance with Federal Law

• Lucy Glasson, Team Attorney, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
• Michael Wesley, Equal Opportunity Specialist, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

Description: The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for school districts and charter schools, etc. that receive funds from the Department. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin. You will hear from OCR officials who will highlight the key requirements pertaining to the provision of educational services to EL students, with an emphasis on the components of an effective alternative language program and parent and guardian rights.

(C) Helping Newcomer Students Succeed in School: Learning from “Bright Spots”

• BethAnn Berliner, Senior Researcher, WestEd
• Gwen Snow, Principal, Newcomer Academy

Description: There are many things that educators can do to help English Learner immigrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking students to succeed in school. This interactive workshop provides practical ideas and promising practices from five bright spot newcomer schools. These are schools that have a demonstrated record of helping newcomers develop English language proficiency, foster “learning-to-live” skills, fill knowledge gaps, build toward mastery of grade-level content, and receive basic living and social-emotional supports.

Participants will learn from a visionary leader of a newcomer school about the lives of newcomer students and what it takes to cultivate a staff with the knowledge, skills, supports, and cultural understanding to ensure effective instruction and student achievement.

(D) Perspectives from the Field: Best Practices for EL Students

• Lucretia Brown, Assistant Superintendent of Equity & Accountability, Allentown School District
• Kathleen Gill, Director of ESOL & World Languages, Principal of Newcomer Academies, Allentown School District
• Thomas E. Parker, Superintendent, Allentown School District
• Ludy Soderman, Director of Multilingual Family Support, School District of Philadelphia

Description: School districts and charter schools are charged with ensuring that EL students are provided English language acquisition services and access to content area instruction. School District officials in this workshop session represent exemplary systemic efforts that build capacity for meeting the needs of EL students and their families. Come to hear about their efforts and experiences and get valuable tips in developing and implementing best practices.

(E) Putting Research into Practice: Identifying English Learners with Disabilities

• Elizabeth Burr, Senior Research Associate, WestEd
• Silvia DeRuvo, Senior Program Associate, WestEd’s Learning Innovations Program

: In the absence of consistent guidance, local education agencies can find themselves either over or under-identifying English Learners with disabilities. In this session, participants will explore the key considerations related to pre-referral of English Learners suspected of having a disability. Participants will have an opportunity to hear about strategies from the literature and recent state and local guidelines that have been developed for practitioners. Best practices for identification will be explored, looking more deeply into the differences between language acquisition and disability, misconceptions about English Learners and students with disabilities that can lead to inappropriate referrals for special education.

Participants will discover resources related to frequently asked questions regarding guidance documents, language acquisition and learning disability, pre-referral interventions, culturally responsive teaching, students with interrupted education, migrant students, evaluating English Learners, interdisciplinary teams and universal design for learning strategies to support English Learners in the classroom.

(F) Breaking Down Barriers to Equal Educational Opportunity for ELs: Identifying, Addressing and Eliminating Discriminatory and Segregative Policies and Practices in Our Schools

• Pace McConkie, Director, Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education, Morgan State University
• Lydia Walther-Rodriguez, Baltimore Regional Director, CASA

: Racial and ethnic minority students, including English Learners and immigrant children, have historically been confronted with significant barriers to equal educational opportunity and meaningful tracks for educational excellence and advancement. Today, significant policies and practices that discriminate on the basis of race and ethnicity or which perpetuate the inequities of segregation persist in many schools, including, among others, policies and practices related to school discipline or the ability grouping and tracking of students. Participants in this workshop will examine and discuss systemic racism and root causes of these continuing policies and practices, the discriminatory impact on racial and ethnic minority students and how such policies and practices can be identified, challenged and remedied. Participants will further understand the particular risks and challenges faced by English Learners when confronted by such discriminatory policies and practices and the risks of being diverted away from productive, college-bound educational tracks and toward dead-end tracks and even the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
12:15 pm
Student Panel: The Voices of English Learners
12:15 pm- 1:00 pm
Panel Moderator:
• Michelle Nutter, Education and Outreach Program Manager/ E&O Civil Rights Outreach Specialist Office of Public Engagement, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

English Learner Students from schools throughout Region I will share their insights about positive school climate and safety. They will identify strategies that helped them feel safe, valued and respected in their schools. They will also share experiences that created a sense of belonging in their communities. Students who feel safe and connected are able to achieve at their highest level. Learn how educators can foster a sense of belonging and safety in their EL students.


Keynote Speaker
Aída Walqui | Dir. of Teacher Professional Development, WestEd
Aída Walqui’s work focuses on the development of educator expertise to provide second language learners deep, rigorous, and accelerated learning opportunities in their family language and in English as a second language. Walqui holds a Masters in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in Language Literacy and Culture from Stanford University. She has won multiple awards for her work, including the TESOL International Association’s 50 Most Influential Leaders in the profession in the last 50 years. The author of numerous books and articles, her Amplifying the curriculum: Designing quality learning opportunities for English Learners will be published by Teachers College Press this summer. more
Maria del Rosario (Charo) Basterra | Vice President, MAEC
Charo is an educational psychologist with over 30 years of experience on issues related to educational evaluation, English Learners, family engagement, multicultural education, and early childhood education. At MAEC, Ms. Basterra provides day to day supervision of MAEC’s programmatic and evaluation activities. She also assists the President in overseeing fiscal affairs. In addition, she provides technical assistance to SEAs, LEAs, and schools to promote the academic achievement of English Learners, K-12. Ms. Basterra has edited several books, including Cultural Validity in Assessment: Addressing Linguistic and Cultural Diversity published by Routledge. Previously, she worked at the Smithsonian Institution as Manager of Multicultural Programs and at the Organization of American States where she conducted studies on Preschool Education in Latin America.
BethAnn Berliner | Senior Researcher, WestEd
BethAnn Berliner is a Senior Researcher at WestEd specializing in cross-sector approaches to K-12 student success. Her work to improve the academic, developmental, health, and well-being outcomes of children, youth, families, and the systems that support them is nationally recognized. She brings expertise working with students with interruptions in their schooling, including students in foster care, students without homes, and students who are new to America.
Lucretia Brown | Assistant Superintendent of Equity & Accountability, Allentown School District, PA
Dr. Brown is scholar-practitioner committed to the development of leadership and organizational solutions to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in public school systems. She has facilitated a variety of diversity broadcasts and workshops in education (K-12 and higher education), non-profit, and corporate environments. To date Dr. Brown has served in cabinet level diversity and equity positions in two of the largest school Districts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A major accomplishment in her role within the Allentown School District (ASD) was the adoption of the District’s first Equitable Resource Allocation policy. Dr. Brown also served as the lead developer of the District’s Strategic Framework, and currently oversees the implementation and monitoring of the District’s inaugural curriculum audit findings.
Elizabeth Burr | Senior Research Associate, WestEd
A Senior Research Associate who joined WestEd in 2007, Elizabeth Burr coordinates research projects — including policy analyses, literature reviews, and syntheses — for the Regional Educational Laboratory West. Burr is the lead staff member for the English Learner Alliance; in particular, her work has focused on English Learner students with disabilities and long‑term English Learner students. Burr also is the manager of Ask‑A‑REL/Reference Desk. Previously Burr was a Project Director at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University and the Project Director at Policy Analysis for California Education.
Silvia DeRuvo | Senior Program Associate, WestEd’s Learning Innovations Program
Silvia Lenhof DeRuvo has committed to equity in education for students with disabilities, English learners and other diverse learners throughout her career. She is a Senior Program Associate at WestEd’s Learning Innovations Program providing technical assistance to states through the IDEA Data Center (IDC) and the National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI). She is a lead writer on the recently released California Practitioners Guide for Educating English Learners with Disabilities .
Wendella Fox | Director, Philadelphia Office of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Wendella P. Fox was appointed in December 1997 as the Director of the Philadelphia Office of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U. S. Department of Education (the Department). The Office for Civil Rights enforces federal statutes that prohibit discrimination in programs and activities including Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, Title II, and the Age Act for recipients who receive federal financial assistance from the Department. The Philadelphia office is one of twelve regional offices nation-wide. This office serves over 700 school districts, more than 200 charter schools, and 400 institutions of higher learning located in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Prior to her tenure with OCR, Ms. Fox was an attorney in both the public and private sectors. Ms. Fox is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and it’s law school. Ms. Fox has been active in civic and community organizations as well as her church community since her graduation from law school.
Kathleen Gill | Director of ESOL & World Languages, Principal, Newcomer Academies, Allentown School District, PA
Kathleen Gill is the Director of ESOL & World Languages and Principal of the Newcomer Academies in the Allentown School District. The Newcomer Academies provide a temporary, one-year, placement for students who are new to the United States, speak little or no English and have had no previous US Public School experience. In response to the 2017 Hurricane Maria evacuee crisis, ASD opened a second Newcomer Academy for students in grades K-6. Mrs. Gill’s work at the Newcomer Academies supports immigrants, evacuees and refugees including students with Limited Interrupted Formal Schooling (LIFE). Currently, ASD includes students from 76 countries who speak 47 different languages. Mrs. Gill has focused on ESL, Linguistics and English Learners throughout her 38-year career. She is an Adjunct Professor of Linguistics in the Graduate School of Education at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Gill is the recipient of 2019 Secondary Principal Award of Excellence and the National School Board Association 2019 Magna Award for removing barriers to achievement for underserved and vulnerable students.
Lucy Glasson | Team Attorney, Philadelphia Office of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Lucy Glasson has been an attorney with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in Philadelphia since November 2008. During that time, she has investigated complaints and conducted compliance reviews concerning compliance with federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age by colleges, universities, and public school districts. Before joining OCR, Ms. Glasson spent seven years in private practice at law firms in Philadelphia and Boston, and served as a judicial clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Ms. Glasson earned her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2000 and graduated from Bates College in 1997 with an undergraduate degree in history.
Michelle Nutter | Education and Outreach Program Manager/ E&O Civil Rights Outreach Specialist Office of Public Engagement, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
Michelle Gwinn Nutter, a Pennsylvania-certified teacher and former Civil Rights I nvestigator for the PA Office of Attorney General, is an Equity Specialist for the Center for Education Equity. She provides training and technical assistance to schools and communities throughout the state on a wide array of issues that disrupt the educational process. Ms. Nutter is a nationally recognized speaker and frequently serves as a facilitator for the Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) Program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, in collaboration with multiple federal, state and local agencies and community partners. She is a certified Olweus Bullying Prevention Program trainer and a certified Partners Against Hate trainer. As such, she assists schools in the prevention of and effective response to bullying and bias-related tension incidents.
Pace McConkie | Director, Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education, Morgan State University
Mr. McConkie is a civil rights lawyer and social justice advocate with a specialized focus on equal rights, equal protection, and equal justice under law. He is the founder and director of the Robert M. Bell Center for Civil Rights in Education established at Morgan State University to unite research, teaching, training and advocacy to identify and address integral civil rights issues in education and the elimination of any continuing policy or practice in our schools, colleges and universities that foster discrimination on the basis of race or perpetuate the inequitable conditions of segregation. He has pursued his work and advocacy in the public interest and non-profit sectors of law and education where he has served as an attorney with the National Legal Department of the NAACP and continues to work closely with the NAACP as a cooperating attorney and Life Member. Mr. McConkie served for several years with the National Litigation Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, primarily on school desegregation and equal educational opportunity cases and related policy initiatives. He is a former Assistant Attorney General of Maryland.
Thomas E. Parker | Superintendent, Allentown School District, PA
Thomas E. Parker started with the Allentown School District in 2017. Since joining the District, Mr. Parker has focused on preparing students to be college and career ready with an emphasis on Middle School Transformation, a critical component to student success. Under Mr. Parker’s leadership, ASD received the First Place Magna Award for Equity Programs for the work at Newcomer Academy, a PAsmart grant for technology and introduced a dual degree program in partnership with LCCC. Before joining the Allentown School District, Mr. Parker served as the Superintendent of Ecorse Public Schools in Ecorse, MI where he implemented several districtwide initiatives that focused on improving student achievement with special emphasis on closing the achievement gaps among underachieving groups.
Susan Shaffer | President, MAEC
Susan has been a nationally recognized expert for more than four decades. Her transformational work in public schools has centered on the development of comprehensive technical assistance for system wide change, training on educational equity and culturally responsive pedagogy and practice, school climate and culture, family, school, and community engagement, and multicultural gender-related issues. Currently, Ms. Shaffer is representing MAEC as a partner with the Chief State School Officers to create a State Consortium on Family Engagement, developing a CoP among seven state teams to develop a Birth to Grade 12 Family Engagement Framework.
Gwen Snow | Principal, Newcomer Academy, KY
Gwen Snow is the principal of the Newcomer Academy, a school to support adolescent students who are new to the US and to English as they prepare to transition to comprehensive schools throughout Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky. She has also taught several teacher preparation courses to address English Learner education for K-12 at local universities.
Ludy Soderman | Director of Multilingual Family Support, School District of Philadelphia, PA
Ludy Soderman has been an educator for 30 years, as a teacher and administrator in independent and public schools. As the director of Multilingual Family Support for the School District of Philadelphia, she manages 106 individuals that provide school-based and District- wide interpretation and translation services, as well as facilitate workshops for families and staff. She facilitates training on language access, cultural competence, and multiculturalism.
Julie Sugarman | Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy
Julie Sugarman is a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, where she focuses on issues related to immigrant and English learner students in elementary and secondary schools. Previously, Dr. Sugarman was a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Linguistics, and she earned her Ph.D. in second language education and culture from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Lydia Walther-Rodriguez | Baltimore Regional Director, CASA
Lydia Walther-Rodriguez migrated to the United States from Panama and has been residing in Baltimore City for the past 12 years. She began advocating for immigrant rights with CASA Baltimore as a student activist at Morgan State University fighting for the Maryland Dream Act in 2010. She joined CASA as an AmeriCorps volunteer to promote and facilitate citizenship services and was then hired as a community organizer. She has advanced CASA's Police Reform coalition, expanded its youth college access program, and led the Baltimore region's community organizing team.
Michael Wesley | Equal Opportunity Specialist, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Philadelphia
After serving for two years as a long-term substitute teacher for several school districts in the Lehigh Valley area, Mr. Wesley joined the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). He is a senior level Equal Opportunity Specialist in OCR’s Philadelphia office. He has investigated complaints and compliance reviews concerning a variety of educational equity issues – including the provision of services to English Learners – and is a member of the steering committee for OCR’s Title VI Discipline Network.

Event Location

Morgan State University

Student Center
Baltimore, MD 21218

Please read this for more information on location and parking.


Hotel Options

  1. Inn at The Colonnade Baltimore – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel 
    Address: 4 West University Parkway  Baltimore, MD 21218
    Telephone: 410 5547579
  2. Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel
    Address: 903 Dulaney Valley Rd, Towson, MD 21204
    Telephone: 410-321-7400

  3. Residence Inn Baltimore at The Johns Hopkins Medical Campus
    Address: 800 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205
    Contact for Group Rate: Austin Sellman Telephone:443-524-8405

Contact us

  • Thank you for your interest in the 2019 Equity Breakfast Institute. To contact us, please fill out the form below.