New Book by Lehman Professor, Immaculée Harushimana, About African-born Students in American Schools

African Immigrants’ Experiences in American Schools: Complicating the Race Discourse
By Shirley Mthethwa-Sommers and Immaculee Harushimana

Immaculée Harushimana is associate professor of TESOL and English education at Lehman College, City University of New York. Her new book, written with colleague Shirley Mthethwa-Sommers, focuses on African-born students in American schools.African Immigrants' Experiences in Schools

As the number of African-born students in American schools increases, it is important that schools enlarge the circle of diversity to include African-born students who are rendered invisible by their skin color and continent of origin. African Immigrants’ Experiences in American Schools: Complicating the Race Discourse is aimed at filling the gap in the literature about African-born students in American schools. This book will not only assist teachers and administrators in understanding the nuanced cultural, sociological, and socio-cognitive differences between American-born and African-born students; it will also equip them with effective interpersonal teaching strategies adapted to the distinct needs of African-born students and others like them. The book explores in depth salient African-rooted factors that come into play in the social and academic integration of African immigrant students, such as gender, spirituality, colonization, religious affiliation, etc. The authors examine American-rooted factors that complicate the adaptation of these students in the US educational school system, such as institutional racism, Afrophobia, Islamophobia, cultural discontinuities, curricular mismatches, and western media mis-portrayals. They also proffer pedagogical tools and frameworks that may help minimize these deleterious factors.


Shirley Mthethwa-Sommers is associate professor of social and psychological foundations of education at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, where she also serves as director of the Center for Urban Education.

Immaculée Harushimana is associate professor of TESOL and English education at Lehman College, City University of New York.


This myth-dispelling call-to-action belongs in the lap of every teacher of African-born students. But its pervasive Ubuntu philosophy, comprehensive illumination of the multiple dimensions of the African immigrant experience, and prescriptions for best practice in instruction will inspire and guide all educators. Theoretical and practical in equal measure, it lays the foundation for a richer, more diverse, and therefore stronger democracy in America. I know that I will be quoting it and stealing ideas from it in my work. Using proverbs to help students grasp science concepts: Priceless!
— Dale Worsley, Education Consultant

A long-overdue, meticulous analysis of the invisibilization and marginalization of African-born students in the US, with a comprehensive set of suggested pedagogical solutions. A must-read for education professionals working with this population.
— Otieno Kisiara, Nazareth College

Mthethwa-Sommers and Harushimana have filled a void in the literature with their elucidation of the lived experiences of African immigrants. This significant book illuminates the experiences of a population that has been rendered invisible within schools in the US. It is essential reading for educators as it provides insights into the vast cultural and linguistic differences among students categorized as Black and the implications of these differences for providing equitable education for all students.
— Zaline Roy-Campbell, Syracuse University

Dr. Morales-Alexander wins the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award

Yasmin3_smallDr. Yasmin Morales-Alexander, an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, has won the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) in recognition of her excellence and the potential to have a positive impact on the field of early childhood education.

Dr. Morales-Alexander received her Ed.D in Curriculum and Teaching with a focus on multicultural and urban education from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 2016. Drawing upon sociocultural theory and a “funds of knowledge” framework, her dissertation research explored the family engagement practices of Mexican immigrant families living in a New York City neighborhood. Her research interests include young children’s development and family engagement within sociocultural contexts, and pre-service teacher development.

Beginning with her own education, as both an undergraduate and graduate student at Lehman College, Dr. Morales-Alexander has over 25 years of experience in the early childhood field. Her expertise was born from her work as a group teacher in various daycare settings; as an Early Head Start/Head Start administrator in a large social service agency in New York City; as a program evaluator, program specialist, and technical assistance provider for the Office of Head Start; and as an adjunct instructor at both Brooklyn and Lehman Colleges.

For Dr. Morales-Alexander, who ardently believes in “paying it forward”, coming back to Lehman College on a full-time basis brings her professional journey full circle. “I am excited and look forward to working with a new generation of early childhood practitioners. To provide them with the support and nurturing that was given to me in this very institution is meaningful and empowering.”

Congratulations and Farewell to Pedro Baez, New Deputy Director for CUNY K-16 Initiatives!

Pedro_smallPedro Baez (Center for School/College Collaboratives) has accepted a position as Deputy Director for CUNY K-16 Initiatives. He will provide leadership and support to a range of programs that aim to improve the college readiness, high school-to-college transition, and academic success of young people in New York City. Reporting to the Dean for K-16 Initiatives, Pedro will oversee College Now, College Focus, and the New York City Science & Engineering Fair.

Pedro Baez began his work at the Lehman College Center for School/College Collaboratives in 1989 as the Project Director of the Liberty Partnerships Program funded by the New York State Education Department. His leadership of the program, Phoenix 1000, in partnership with South Bronx High School, was one of the most successful LPP programs in New York State. His strength of purpose, persistence, commitment to student success and collaboration with principals, staff and teachers changed the school and student outcomes to an extraordinary degree. With the experience gained in LPP, Pedro continued to serve the College and the community through federally, state and city funded college access/success programs.

Pedro’s belief in students and his approach to helping them succeed with, as he often stated, “an iron fist in a velvet glove” has been the secret to his successful leadership and the extraordinary success of students fortunate enough to be in his programs. Also central to his success is his ability to collaborate with others by engaging them in identifying potential problems and finding solutions to avoid them.

Pedro was tapped to be the College Now Director at Lehman. The additions, improvements and enhancements to the College Now program in the years of his directorship resulted in a cohesive set of experiences designed to take high school students from College Now into college and beyond. This past summer, Pedro took on the responsibility of getting the Lehman Teaching Fellows program up and running. It was an intense summer for all, but with his collaborative approach to leadership, he assembled a team and launched a successful learning experience for all involved.

Pedro Baez will be sorely missed at Lehman. Our loss is CUNY Central’s gain. We wish him well.

Lehman Graduate is Big Apple Award Recipient

Congratulations to Nila Johnson, 2016 Big Apple Award Recipient!

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Nila Cadornigara-Johnson, graduated from Lehman with a MSED in Early Childhood in 2006. She is now a Pre-Kindergarten teacher, at 1199 Future of America Learning Center, Fordham Manor (64XAPN). Enjoy the video above of as Nila’s colleagues and students recognize her achievements with love and pride.

Nila Johnson has 20 years of experience teaching in New York City schools, in addition to her years teaching in the Philippines and Nigeria. She draws on this wealth of experience to ensure her lessons resonate with her NilaJohnsonpre-kindergarten students. Ms. Johnson’s classroom is structured around Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, with different immersive environment areas such as a music studio, a publishing house, and a sushi house to engage students’ varied interests and learning styles. Ms. Johnson carefully monitors her students’ choices during center time, and designs instruction to include materials that cater to their interests and lives. That means a lot of hands-on learning, from bringing in chopsticks for students to practice with to an investigation of high fructose corn syrup in which the class studied its physical characteristics, met a corn farmer, and worked with parents to investigate their refrigerators at home to locate food items with high fructose corn syrup. Ms. Johnson carefully evaluates each students’ strengths and areas for growth at the beginning of the year. For a classroom of four- and five-year olds, success can be defined very differently from student to student, but as Ms. Johnson explains, “For my students, success is confidence.”

Congratulations 2016 School of Education Graduates!

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School of Education: Honors Reception & LUTE Awards

web BrochureDeans, department chairs, faculty, cooperating teachers, candidates, family & friends gathered on Thursday, May 19 for the CUNY Lehman College Annual School of Education Honors Reception. During this special evening, Dr. Minerva Santos was presented with this year’s Lehman Urban Transformative Education (LUTE) Award recognizing her outstanding contribution to urban education and working with English Language Learners.

Excellence in Student Teaching Awards: Jessica Colon (ECCE), Jennifer Sanjurjo (CLLSE), Nelson Caro (MHSE)
English Education Award: Shanay Oseafiana
Aspiring Educational Leader Award: Jason Rayes
Ronald Ellis Awards in Graduate Science Education: Kassie Leidemer, Christie Peralta
Graduate Research/ePortfolio Awards: Ramina Caceres-Cosme, Danielle Clermont, Marcia Feliz, Dana Molloy, Cristie Peralta, Stephanie Shilling.

And 21 Counselor Education students were inducted into Chi Sigma Iota, Tau Chapter, International Counseling and Professional Honor Society: Jose Albarracin, Diahanna Betances, Arlyn Ceballos, Trinese Davis, Erica DeJesus, Shamika Fletcher, Ana J. Henriquez, Nadine Kerr, Leiat Klarfeld, Nathalie Lafleur, Sabree Muhammad, Elizabeth Nieves, Benjamin Udochukwu Nnaji, Erbin Nunez, Ritachi Nwabueze, Isabel Ortiz, Aurisis Pena, Ana Santana, Daniela Tabares, Omawattie Toolsee, Beatrice Valentin

Congratulation to the Class of 2016!

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Lehman Graduate Named Founding Principal at Amber Charter School

Veronica_AlmedinaVeronica Almedina, Lehman Alumna is named the founding Principal of Amber Charter School Washington Heights.

Veronica Almedina is a graduate of Lehman College where she was awarded a Master’s of Science degree in Childhood Education. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University.

Veronica Almedina is the founding principal of Amber Charter School Washington Heights. Prior to being named founding principal, Veronica was Assistant Principal and Dean of Students at Amber Charter School East Harlem.

Veronica has experience as an elementary school teacher, where she has served as team leader and mentor to fellow teaching colleagues. After teaching for five years, Veronica was accepted into the Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program sponsored by the New York State Charter School Division.   Through this fellowship, she was awarded a certificate to serve as a School Leader to New York State Charter Schools.

In addition, Veronica is as an active coach in helping to train prospective educators who want to emerge as leaders in the educational system. Her passion in supporting aspiring future leaders has led her to become one of the founding members of The Latino Charter Leaders Roundtable. Since the launch of the roundtable Veronica has dedicated herself to supporting present and aspiring Latino Leaders of Charter Schools.

Veronica was awarded Mujer Destacada 2013 by El Diario La Prensa. This award acknowledged her as a Latina leader who through her hard work and determination, made a difference in her community.

As an education visionary, Veronica inspires those around her to create a progressive, dynamic and student-centered learning community that is grounded in character driven education. She promotes and fosters an essential partnership between families and to provide students with the optimal educational experience.