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Learning America: How We Can Welcome and Provide a Just and Robust Education for Refugee and Immigrant Students

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

Learning America: How We Can Welcome and Provide a Just and Robust Education for Refugee and Immigrant Students

Presented by Luma Mufleh, Founder and CEO, Fugees Family; Emily Futransky, Chief Impact Officer, Fugees Family; and Gary Fields, Superintendent, Bowling Green Independent School District (KY)
Moderated by Barbara Pape, Senior Director, Learner Variability Project, Digital Promise

Sponsored by Digital Promise

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Millions of refugees fleeing war in Ukraine and Afghanistan in recent months have captured attention and concern in the United States. Hundreds of thousands will resettle here, but the U.S. education system is largely failing refugee and immigrant students. Over five million English language learners (ELLs) are enrolled in schools nationwide, yet among them, only 14% achieve English language proficiency. Nationally, the dropout rate of ELLs is 40%, and these students are five times more likely to be out of school than their peers.

How can we design schools and classrooms to not only welcome our new students, but also provide environments where robust learning can occur? The nonprofit Fugees Family has reimagined schools for refugees and immigrants who are learning English, offering specialized education and centering on soccer as a way to, among other things, create a sense of belonging. Fugees Academies in Georgia and Ohio now serve as innovation hubs for school districts nationwide seeking support for their newcomer and ELL programs.

In this edWebinar, viewers:

  • Learn more about the Fugees model and hear personal stories and inspiration behind the Fugees Academies
  • Dive into specific examples of how Fugees is partnering with districts to build and transform schools for refugee and immigrant students
  • Explore the relevance of whole-child teaching and learning and learner variability within schools embracing refugee and immigrant students

This recorded edWebinar is of interest to teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders of all grade levels. 


Luma MuflehAbout the Presenters

Luma Mufleh is a Syrian/Jordanian entrepreneur, coach, and thought leader in refugee and English Language Learner education. The daughter and granddaughter of Syrian refugees, Luma grew up in Amman, Jordan, where she was one of the Arab students in her class at an American school, one of the only girls who played on her soccer team. In 1993, she came to the United States to attend Smith College and graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology in 1997. In 2006, she founded Fugees Family, the only network of schools in the U.S. dedicated to refugee and immigrant education.

Luma is empowering refugee children to use their voices to reclaim and tell their own stories – shifting the narrative around refugees away from the current fear-mongering frame to one of courage, resilience, and creative potential. Her TED Talk on educational justice has been viewed more than 1.7 million times and her first book, Learning America: One Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children, was released in April 2022.


Emily FutranskyEmily Futransky, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, is the proud granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. She served as the Chief Academic Officer at Fugees Family for four years before moving into her current role as Chief Impact Officer leading Fugees’ district partnership efforts. Prior to joining Fugees Family, Emily helped found the Upper School at the Mary McDowell Friends School in Brooklyn, New York where she taught students with language-based learning disabilities. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Smith College and a Master of Education degree in General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education.


Gary FieldsGary Fields currently serves as the Superintendent for the Bowling Green Independent School District. He has served in this position since 2015. Prior to his role as superintendent, Fields served as the principal of Bowling Green High School from 2002 until 2015. From 1999 until 2002, he served as the Principal of Potter Gray Elementary School. Fields’ teaching career included stops as a Social Studies teacher and Assistant Football Coach at both Union County High School and Bowling Green High School. Fields is a native of Newport, Kentucky, who holds an undergraduate degree from Centre College, a Master’s Degree from the University of Kentucky, and a Rank I in School Administration from Western Kentucky University.


Barbara A. PapeAbout the Moderator

Barbara A. Pape is the senior director for the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise. She has 20 years’ experience in strategic communications, writing, and policy analysis, primarily in education. Previously, she served as the executive producer of the award-winning Teaching & Learning conference, sponsored by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, where she developed content and oversaw outreach and communications. As a writer, she has written for numerous publications, including Harvard University, the National Education Goals Panel (U.S. Department of Education), and Parents magazine. Barbara also served as editor and publisher of the first electronically delivered education newsletter, the Daily Report Card. She served on the Advisory Board of the Kennedy Center’s Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education Committee, serves as a judge for the Milken-Penn Graduate School of Education Business Plan competition, and is on the Boards at the Education Writers Association and Potentia. She earned an Ed.M. at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and launched her career as a middle school language arts teacher.


Learn more about viewing the live presentation and the recording, earning your CE certificate, and using our new accessibility features.

Join the Personalize Learning for Learner Variability community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.

Digital PromiseDigital Promise was created with the mission to accelerate innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
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