Educators, language learning experts, parents, and community leaders will gather June 9-10 at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center for the Third Annual English Language Learners Symposium. This year’s symposium, titled “Family, School, and Community Collaboration: Assuring the Future Through Student Achievement,” is sponsored by The David O. McKay School of Education, the Brigham Young University – Public School Partnership, and the Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling.

The symposium will discuss practices, policies, research, and theory related to language learning and academic success of English language learners. Specifically, the focus will be on how partnerships that include families, communities, and schools can enhance the academic success of these individuals. These partnerships can be considered long-term investments of community resources that support the schooling of children, including parent education classes, partnerships between universities and schools for professional development, and the financial and volunteer human resources provided from community businesses and other organizations.

Schools can’t do it alone. We’re all responsible for the education for our future, and today's children are that future.

The symposium includes professional development sessions for educators and informational sessions about partnership opportunities for schools and communities. These discussions will help develop and disseminate ideas for how to best educate English learners so they can become effective and productive community citizens. “We cannot do it alone,” said Carol Solomon, who oversees the annual ELL symposium. “Schools can’t do it alone. We’re all responsible for the education for our future, and today’s children are that future.”

Discussion at the symposium provides an opportunity for the community to come together and learn how to best support education. “We’re living in a time of increased immigration,” Solomon said. “People are coming here for the same reason others have come in the past: They want something better for their children. We have an opportunity as a society to welcome these families and embrace their knowledge, skills, and talents because they will become contributors to our society.”

Featured speakers will include Cornelia and Jan Flora from Iowa State University, Mavis Sanders from Johns Hopkins University, David and Yvonne Freeman from University of Texas – Brownsville campus; Pam Perlich from the University of Utah, and Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City Mayor. In addition to these speakers, the symposium will include panel discussions, a question-and-answer session, and focus groups.

Persons interested in attending the symposium can register by June 3 either online, by phone, or in person, and registration at the door can be purchased only if space is available. The cost to register is $100 for a two-day non-credit ticket, $130 for a two-day one-credit ticket, and $50 for a two-day keynote session only ticket.

Carol Solomon is the Teaching English Language Learners Program Coordinator in the McKay School Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling.

27 May 2011