White House Recognition of Strengthening STEM MINDS on Active Learning Day!

The Strengthening STEM MINDS© project involves the use of a four-pronged approach that synergistically blends methodologies steeped in racial empowerment to optimally set the stage for youth of the African Diaspora to flourish in their academic pursuits. Drs. Gillian Bayne, Mary Phillips and Sunyata Smith, three Lehman College professors, have synchronistically orchestrated the enactment of practices, which are grounded in their areas of expertise.


Gillian Bayne, Ph.D.


Mary Phillips, Ph.D.


Sunyata Smith, Ph.D.









Their expertise areas are science education, Africana Studies, and microbiology respectively. The professors’ involvement in the project is geared towards mediating the teaching and learning of STEM so that it is specifically and carefully aligned to the lived experiences and lifeworlds of marginalized youth. Their plan includes training STEM teachers to use the approach as a means to empower both students and teachers as teaching and learning experiences unfold in their learning environments.

The faculty’s dedication to equity in STEM is underscored on the White House Web Site announcement on Active Learning Day, October 25, 2016 under the Higher Education Response to Active Learning in STEM Call to Action link:


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