EAST program scholars talk with Minnesota Public Radio

MPRLogoMinnesota Public Radio’s Tim Post profiled Augsburg College’s East African Student to Teacher (EAST) program, which works to recruit and train teachers of East African descent in an effort to help close the K-12 achievement gap.

The program, directed by Audrey Lensmire, assistant professor of education, told Post that by “having more teachers of color in our K-12 system, their professional voice will be shared by their colleagues.”

Post spoke with two current EAST scholars, Abdiasis Hirsi and Asma Ibrahim. Hirsi, who teaches at Wellstone International High School, was born in Somalia and raised in Kenya. He shared with Post that when he was only 19, Hirsi helped start a school in Nairobi to teach English to Somali refugees. Ibrahim, who shared with Post that she was born in Pakistan to Somali refugees, said she had a difficult time as a student in connecting with her teachers in Owatonna. She hopes to become a teacher to help students who are like her become comfortable enough to learn.

EAST is funded by the Collaborative Urban Educator Program and received $390,000 for two school years including 2013-14 to 2014-15. Additional funding is now being sought from the Minnesota State Legislature. State Sen. Kari Dziedzic has introduced a bill to nearly double funding over the next two years.

Listen or read “East African teachers connect with younger versions of themselves” on the website of MPR News. Learn more about the EAST program.