Helping English language-learners
Professor helps encourage student interest in science, going to college.
Martha Allexsaht-Snider, associate professor in the College of Education’s department of educational theory and practice, recently received the Graduate School Faculty and Staff Diversity Award.
She was recognized for her ongoing work with immigrant students and English learners.
Created in 2008, this award recognizes a faculty member creating opportunities for diversity and inclusion in the classroom and within the campus learning environment, as well as fostering communication, education and interaction between faculty and underrepresented student populations. The award is administered by the UGA Graduate School and funded by gifts to the Georgia Fund for the UGA Alumni Association.
Allexsaht-Snider came to UGA’s College of Education because she was impressed with the faculty’s commitment to research, collaborative approaches to teacher education and dedication to partnerships with educators and families in local schools.
Her most recent research project, “Language-rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners-Biotechnology” analyzes the way science and English as a second language teachers in Clarke and Hall counties collaborate to support students, particularly immigrant students and English learners. It also studies the ways families engage with their children in science-learning and support their children’s pursuit of higher education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers.
“Those parents—making all kinds of sacrifices and working hard to support their children materially and educationally—inspired me to conduct research exploring ways to engage Latino/a and immigrant families and support them in realizing their educational dreams for their children.”
In its second year, the project works with 60 teachers and 4,000 students in five high schools and middle schools in Hall County and Clarke County, Georgia.
Each summer, Allexsaht-Snider and her team host a one-week Teacher Institute at UGA. Throughout the year, they conduct several “Saturday Steps to College” workshops, in addition to holding a number of professional learning workshops and sessions for secondary science and ESOL teachers in the community.
Allexsaht-Snider has been working with teachers, students and families for six years on this topic.
“An important goal of our project,” said Allexsaht-Snider, “is to support Georgia science teachers in the hard work and exemplary teaching they are already doing, and aid them with their goals of helping all students learn science and be prepared to pursue postsecondary education. The fact that teachers seek opportunities to work with the project, and are willing to give up three weeks of their summers to that end, motivates me to continue the work.”
She’s been working on similar projects since she was an undergraduate student at Prescott College in Arizona. Allexsaht-Snider and her classmates established a bilingual day care center that served the needs of immigrant Spanish-speaking families. She later spent more than a decade teaching preschool, elementary school and ESOL classes in places like Bucaramanga, Columbia; Denver, Colorado; and Santa Rosa, California, where she was inspired by families committed to their children’s development of bilingual skills and the accomplishment of high levels of academic learning.
After earning a doctoral degree in cross-cultural education from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Allexsaht-Snider chose to come teach at UGA’s College of Education because she was impressed with the faculty’s commitment to three areas that she holds in high regard: high quality research, collaborative approaches to teacher education and dedication to partnerships with educators and families in local schools.
Are you interested in supporting future recipients of the Graduate School Faculty and Staff Diversity Award? Consider making an investment in UGA today.
— Jamie E. Lewis, Development and Alumni Relations