Presentation Archives

Click here to review the MSDE Guide to School for Families of English Learners

Click here to view the Webinar

The Guide to School for Families of English Learners has been developed to help parents to better understand the school system and offers suggestions for how to interact with school staff to support their child’s learning. This Guide provides information about Maryland public schools including how to enroll a child in school, schools by grade levels, early childhood education, opportunities for parents, and much more. 

Thank you for attending the 15th Annual MELLFIN Conference!  If you would like a copy of any presentation please email us at

12th Annual MELLFIN Conference
Equity for EL Students and Families: A Shared Responsibility
Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Anne Arundel Community College (Arnold Campus)

Concurrent Sessions:

U.S. Department of Education's ParentCamp International
Vicki Myers and Carrie Jasper, U.S. Department of Education

The session will demonstrate how ParentCamp International is a means to give immigrant parents a voice and interactive role in the school environment. The ParentCamp will also be linked to the U.S. Department of Education’s Family and Community Engagement Framework and will show how it can be a useful tool in communicating with parents and how schools and school districts can actively engage immigrants parents to support children’s education. Download Presentation.

Sharing Promising Practices of Family Outreach
Patty Burns, 
Emma Bartow, and Ana Thompson from Carroll County; Valerie Perez-Vega, Mahwish Anwar, Diana Rivera and Karen McDonough from Anne Arundel County; Jennifer Johnson, Cindy Hinkle from Washington County;  Ernie Marin and Sally Marin from Frederick County; Ana Burgos and Daniela Perez from Prince George's County

Bilingual Staff (Facilitators, Coordinators, and Liaisons) from local school systems will share promising practices including but not limited to interpreting services, English classes for parents, outreach to moms, and leadership programs.  Participants will learn how these intentional efforts bridge the home-school gap to ensure equal access to educational programs and services for immigrant students and families.  Download Frederick County Schools presentation.

He Named Me Malala
Eileen Mattingly, Director of Education, Journeys in Film and Karen Gibson, ESOL Instructional Lead Teacher, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner at the age of 16, is an exceptionally courageous advocate for girls’ education.  This session will introduce the recent documentary about her life, He Named Me Malala, including clips focusing on how her father has inspired and supported her activities at the risk of his own life. Participants will work through a lesson about the early influences on Malala and will learn how to access a full set of lessons for bringing the film to the secondary classroom. Download Presentation. Download Curriculum Guide.

Kids at Hope
Claudia Thomas, Fairfax County Public Schools and Shawn Ashworth, Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Kids at Hope inspires, empowers and transforms schools, youth serving organizations and entire communities to create an environment and culture where all children experience success, NO EXCEPTIONS! Kids at Hope provides specific strategies to help adults connect with children in meaningful, lasting ways while inspiring hope and optimism in youth by teaching them to envision their future in life’s four major destinations: Home & Family; Education & Career; Community & Service; and Hobbies & Recreation. Hear from two local leaders who are using Kids at Hope to transform their communities and ensure the success of all children. Download Presentation

Featherstone Foundation: Computer Literacy Initiative for Latinos
Lanaea Featherstone, Co-Founder and CEO of the Featherstone Foundation and
2015 MELLFIN Family Engagement Award Recipient

The Featherstone Foundation has developed critical technology programs to solve key social and economic disparity issues among the State’s Latino community. The Foundation’s Empowering Latinos: One “Click” at a Time is a computer literacy initiative that helps Latino immigrant parents learn how to use technology to secure better paying jobs and help their children academically.  Participants will learn about the program and how the program is supporting Latino population in Maryland. Download Presentation

Virtues: Gifts of Character
Joe Van Deuren,  Balanced Life Skills

Participants will explore the essential elements of growth mindset research and be immersed in and equipped with practices that lead students to understand that their “I Can” is more important than their IQ. by creating a classroom and school culture that includes: Process Praise, Growth & Effort Rubrics, Student Self-Reflection, Goal Setting, and the Power of YET. The session will conclude with participants creating a “next steps” plan for implementing growth mindset strategies and supporting their schools in embracing ALL of the tenets of School.

Federal Requirements to Provide Interpretation and Translation and
the Experiences of School Districts
in Maryland

Laura Gardner, Anne Arundel Public Schools,
Maritza Gonzalez, Prince George’s County Public Schools, Pilar Lepe, Charles County Public Schools and Claudia Easton, Baltimore City Public Schools

This workshop will explore federal requirements for providing parents with interpretation and translation services in schools as parents have a right to receive information “in a language they understand.”  It will include a panel of representatives from school districts in Maryland who will discuss how they address these requirements and overcome barriers for doing so. Download Presentation

Refugee Resettlement in Maryland
Ruben Chandrasekar, Executive Director, International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world's worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster.  Refugees that flee war torn or politically unstable countries are here in the United States to begin their new life.  Through this workshop, participants will learn how IRC supports refugee families to get on the path to self-sufficiency and integrated in their new communities.  Participants will also learn about the opportunities to support refugee children (and their families) attending our public schools in Maryland.

Maryland Pre-K- 12 Family Engagement Framework: A Shared Responsibility

Veronica Simmons, Barbara Scherr and Young-chan Han,Maryland State Department of Education

The Maryland’s PreK-12 Family Engagement Framework: A Shared Responsibility was developed in partnership with a cadre of key educational stakeholders to build capacity of educators to effectively engage immigrant families in education.  Participants will learn about the five core principles of the Framework and how these areas can support EL students and families to increase family engagement and student success. Download Presentation.

Student Panel: Collective Reflection of Educational Success
Facilitator: Nora I. Morales, Mid-Atlantic Equity Center and Student panelists: Gabriela Beatriz Arias (AACPS);
Yuwei Tang (MCPS); Elishadaye Gebreyesus (PGCPS); Junseok Oh (HCPSS) and Ana-Karent Pina Rico (HCPSS)

Student panelists will share stories of their journey to the US and how they navigated the complex US school system to success in school.

Understanding the Dynamics of Parents and Students from Central America
Matthew Peters, Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, Talbot County and
2015 MELLFIN Family Engagement Award Recipient

This presentation will give a complete overview of history, recent immigration patterns, and the current situation of the families from Central America that immigrated to our communities over the past decade.   Presenter Matthew R. Peters will give an overview of his 13 years living and working in rural Guatemala (1999-2012), focusing on the social changes that have triggered the migration north, and his 3 years working with families from Central America here in the United States. Matthew will describe in detail the issues affecting this community and the positive outcomes and proposed strategies needed to ensure that families are engaged and successful. Download Presentation.

What is Equity for English Learners and Their Families?
Renee E. Yarbough-Williams and Laura Hook,Maryland State Department of Education

Public schools have obligation not to discriminate students based on race, color, or national origin. They must take affirmative steps to ensure that English Learners (ELs) can meaningfully participate in educational programs and services, and to communicate information to the families of ELs in a language they can understand. Download Presentation. Download Title VI Basic Compliance Responsibilities of Schools, LEAs and SEAs.

From the Outside In: Rethinking Parental Engagement

Laurie A. Namey, Supervisor of Equity & Cultural Proficiency, Harford County Public Schools

As we welcome our changing school populations into our schools, welcoming our changing families too, must be a part of our mission. In order to build partnerships and strengthen our relationships, schools must break the barriers to family engagement. It is important for schools to look beyond the traditional means and definitions of involvement to a model that focuses on engagement. In this session, explore ways to break the barriers, rethink engagement, strengthen connections and inspire a school community to believe in a diverse and modern approach to families and schools. Download Presentation.

Creating a Culture of Growth
Anne Arundel County Equity Office

Participants will explore the essential elements of growth mindset research and be immersed in and equipped with practices that lead students to understand that their “I Can” is more important than their IQ. by creating a classroom and school culture that includes: Process Praise, Growth & Effort Rubrics, Student Self-Reflection, Goal Setting, and the Power of YET. The session will conclude with participants creating a “next steps” plan for implementing growth mindset strategies and supporting their schools in embracing ALL of the tenets of School 203. Download Presentation.

General Meeting - September 18, 2015

Addressing Language Barriers and the Needs of LEP Communities
Virginia Rosa, Esq.
, Legal Aid Bureau| Download presentation

General Meeting - October 15, 2014
Practices & Perspectives: Unaccompanied Youth Resettlement
Tawnya H. Brown, LCSW-C, Executive Director, Bethany Christian Services of Maryland| Download presentation

Watch video: Oscar's Story- Honduras to US

Watch video: America's child migrant crisis explained

Other resources:
Online resource providing access to contacts for service providers across the State.  Presented by the Governor's Commission on Latino Affairs.

List of resources on unaccompanied youth and family reunification
Compiled by Laura Gardner, ELL Family & Community Outreach Manager, AACPS Office of School & Family Partnerships

10th Annual Conference - May 21, 2014

Educating for Impact: Immigration Reform for ELL Families

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, author of 
Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon. For more information visit

Concurrent Sessions

Immigration and Schools: Unaccompanied Youth
A panel discussion focused on identifying, engaging and serving unaccompanied youth. Expert panelists will discuss some of the circumstances that result in immigrant youth being in the United States without their parents or guardians and will share information about the federal laws that provide the means for youth to attend school and address their unique needs.

Watch video: More Unaccompanied Minors are Crossing the Border, ABC News

Katie Kuennen, MSW, Assistant Director Family Reunification
US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services

Jasmine Shortridge, LGSW, Children's Services Child Specialist
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Megan McKenna, Communications and Advocacy Director
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Jennifer Podkul, Esq., Senior Program Officer, Migrant Rights and Justice
Women's Refugee Commission

Xiomara Medina, Assistant Homeless Liaison, Anne Arundel Public Schools

Families Reunite: Immigrant Family Reunification
Presenter: Robin Hamby, Fairfax County Public Schools
Increase your knowledge about immigrant family reunification.  Our schools are welcoming more students, arriving on their own, from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador than ever before.    Delve into issues newly reunified families must navigate, such as adjustment difficulties and difficulty understanding expectations and roles.  Learn about Fairfax County Public Schools’ new parent education curriculum Families Reunite.  Take away strategies and resources to assist children and their families in your school and community.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform and its Implication for ELL Families

Presenter: Pat Hatch, Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition
Why is immigration reform so badly needed? What are some of the situations in the lives of your ELL learners and their families that could be affected? What progress is being made on immigration reform legislation in Congress? And why is it so crucial that those who know ELL families become advocates on their behalf - not just locally but by keeping in touch with our federal legislators? This session will present an overview of the current broken system and a glimpse of what is happening legislatively, and how you can be involved.

Ensuring Equal Opportunities for Parents and Students with Limited English Proficiency
Presenter: Jerry Hand, Attorney, United States Department of Education
Overview of the Federal laws that prohibit discrimination against Engligh Language Learners.  The presentation includes a discussion of applicable Federal statutes, regulations, caselaw and policy.

Understanding DACA and the DREAM Act
Eunhae Gohng, Of Counsel, Sung & Hwang LLP

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) are two separate programs for different purposes and benefits.  This session will discuss the eligibility requirements, benefits, application process, and current issues regarding DACA.  The session will also discuss the federal DREAM act, which has been previously proposed and currently included in the comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, as well as the Maryland DREAM Act, which is currently in effect.

ELL Student Panel to Share their Stories
Facilitator: Nora Illia Morales, Senior Educational Equity Specialist, Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium
Student panelists will share their stories and experiences in their community and schools.

9th Annual Conference - May 10, 2013

Promoting ELL Family Literacy in Schools and Communities
Keynote Speaker: Ambareen Jafri, Winner of the 2012 Maryland Parent Involvement Matters Award

8th Annual Conference - May 11, 2012

Innovative Voices in Education: Engaging Diverse Communities (Coming soon)
Keynote Speaker: Eileen Gale Kugler, Founder, Embrace Diverse Schools

 General Meeting - October 20, 2011

Family Engagement as a Tool to Close Academic Gaps
Nora Illia Morales, Vice President, The Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, Inc.

7th Annual Conference - May 13, 2011

English Language Learners in Maryland
Keynote Speaker: Young-chan Han, Family Involvement Specialist,
Maryland State Department of Education

Partnering with Families to Support Student Mental Health Needs
Eileen Kugler, Founder, Embrace Diverse Schools

Helping Families Achieve Literacy & Success in a Global Economy
Raynor Roberts and JaCina N. Stanton, The Urban Education Partnership

Planning for the Future: Educational Alternatives for "Aging Out" ELLs
Amy Harris, School Counselor, Anne Arundel County Public Schools and
Lori Miller, ESOL Counselor, Howard County Public Schools

Outreach Strategies for Breaking Barriers
Elizabeth C. Alcoba, M.A.T., Montgomery County Public Schools

Summer Changes Everything!
Ashley B. Stewart, National Summer Learning Association

General Meeting - June 4, 2010

Who are our ELLs?
Young-chan Han, Family Involvement Specialist, and Cathy Nelson, Title III/ELL Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education

6th Annual Conference - May 20, 2010

Family, School & Communities = Student Success
Nora Illia Morales, ELL Outreach Coordinator, Maryland Parent Involvement Resource Center

Multi-tiered Approach Equals Success for ELL Family Literacy
Debbie Bostian, Mary Droddy, Sue Jacobs, Mary Rogers, Lincoln Elementary School,
Frederick County Public Schools

Summer School Programs that Work for all ELLs
Tiffany Miles, Anna Roberts & Will Roberts, Washington County Public Schools