Audrey Lensmire and Salah Ali contribute to MinnPost article on Somali-Americans choosing careers in education

MinnPostAudrey Lensmire, director of Augsburg College’s East African Student to Teacher (EAST) program, and program participant Salah Ali ’17 were interviewed by MinnPost for a report on Minnesota’s growing number of Somali-Americans working toward careers in education. The article notes that the number of Somalis resettling in the state has more than tripled in recent years, which has caused an influx of Somali students and created a need for teachers, counselors, and socials workers with a deep understanding of Somali culture.

The EAST program is funded by the state’s Collaborative Urban Educator program and seeks to graduate and license K-12 teachers of East African origin. In the article, Lensmire is quoted as saying, “Typically, becoming a professional teacher has been available only to people who have money and the means to get the license.” The EAST program offers financial assistance by providing students with full tuition scholarships as they seek licensure.

Augsburg’s program is one of several made possible by the CUE program. In the article, Ali notes that he knows many Somali students in similar programs at Hamline University and the University of Minnesota. “A lot of us are in the education field right now. Many are doing social studies and ESL programs and counseling licenses,” he said.

Read: More young Somali-Americans are choosing careers in education on the MinnPost site.

Juventino Meza ’11 pens commentary for MinnPost

MinnPostMinnPost recently published a commentary by Augsburg College alumnus Juventino Meza ’11 on trends regarding Latinos and education in Minnesota.

Meza is a founding member of NAVIGATE MN, a leadership development program for immigrant young adults, and received the Ohtli Award in 2013, which is the Mexican government’s highest recognition for a civilian Mexican living outside Mexico.

In the commentary, Meza outlined how an increasing proportion of Latinos in Minnesota’s demographic makeup calls for changes in educational instruction and administration.

Read the story, “Latino education gap: some ideas for closing it — and thereby improving Minnesota’s future,” on the MinnPost website.

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.

Joe Erickson featured on KSTP 5

Joe Erickson teaches in the education department.

Joe Erickson teaches in the education department.

Joe Erickson, professor of education, was featured in a story about the impact of school cancellations due to weather on the learning of K-12 students. Erickson said “time on task” is key in student learning and that since schools have closed a total of five days, it may be beneficial for the state to push back standardized tests. View the story on KSTP.

Abenth is seventh Auggie teacher to receive Milken Educator Award

abenth_milkenHe teaches fourth grade and directs choirs at Highland Park Elementary in St. Paul, Minn. He also plays guitar and drums, sings in a band, and makes furniture and woodcarvings in the summer. But ask him why he was selected to receive a prestigious educator award, and this outstanding teacher blushes.

“I’m still trying to figure that out,” said Steve Abenth ’04. “I could make a list of hundreds of teachers who deserve this award, but I’m very honored to have received it.”

On November 9, 2012, Abenth became the newest recipient of the Milken Educator Award for the state of Minnesota. The award, established in 1985 by the Milken Family Foundation, recognizes excellence in early- to mid-career educators. A committee appointed by each state’s department of education selects the recipients. Abenth is the seventh Augsburg alum to receive the award since 2004. Continue reading

Augsburg College hosts parliamentarian Marianne Aasen

AasenAugsburg College on October 16 and 17 will host Norwegian parliamentarian Marianne Aasen as she makes her first trip to Minnesota aimed at identifying opportunities for research, business, and educational exchange between Norway and the Upper Midwest.

Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow invited Aasen to visit the College to further her understanding of U.S. higher education and to explore topics central to her vocation. During the trip, Aasen—who chairs a parliamentary committee on research and education—will meet U.S. scholars who collaborate with Norwegian researchers and will discuss educational issues with faculty members in the College’s Education and Social Work departments. Continue reading

Augsburg College McNair Scholars Program grant renewed

McNair_renewedThe U.S. Department of Education recently renewed grant funding for the Augsburg College McNair Scholars Program; the College from 2012 to 2017 will receive $220,000 on an annual basis, for a total award of $1.1 million.

The TRIO Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program—or McNair Scholars Program—is a federal grant-funded graduate school preparatory program with a mission to prepare first-generation, low income, and underrepresented students for doctoral study. The program provides opportunities for participants to develop the advanced academic skills necessary for graduate school admission and successful graduate study. Continue reading

Minnesota students — We need you at the Capitol!

dayatcapitolEvery spring, the Minnesota Private College Council sponsors Day at the Capitol. It is an opportunity for students to meet with their legislators to advocate for the Minnesota State Grant program. This program provides critical support, helping make higher education possible for one out of three Minnesota college students from low- and middle-income families. The state invested $120 million in aid in the most recent academic year, helping more than 88,000 students.

Legislators need to hear from you about the importance the State Grant program to your education. Without those funds, what would you do? Tell them! Continue reading