Re-Imagining Migration Ambassadors

The Re-Imagining Migration Ambassadors are a highly skilled and experienced group of educators who confidently serve as a bridge between our organization and their communities. They are committed to promoting our mission and are empowered to inspire others to join us on our journey to create a world where migration is not just accepted, but celebrated as an opportunity for growth and learning. Members of our Ambassador program teach in Europe and the United States, including California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Interested in becoming a Re-Imagining Migration Ambassador, email Meisha@reimaginingmigration.org to learn more.

Salvatore Accera. I am Salvatore, a fledgling polyglot and a passionate ambassador for Re-Imagining Migration. Currently pursuing my PhD, at the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain. I work as a modern language teacher, drawing on my own experience as an international student and immigrant. My love for languages, cultures, and exploration fuels my commitment to championing diversity and inclusion. Drawing from my personal journey as an immigrant, I comprehend the significance of championing the cause of immigrant students in both educational settings and broader societal contexts.

Beyond the academic realm, my love for languages and cultures is mirrored in a deep passion for traveling and exploring the world. In the vast tapestry of global experiences, I embrace a sense of being a stateless soul, considering myself a citizen of the world where every corner holds the potential to feel like home.

My goal is to create a supportive space for immigrant students, promoting an environment where diversity is celebrated, and educational experiences transcend borders so as to foster a world where everyone can find a sense of belonging.

 

Sara K. Ahmed is the author of Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension and coauthor with Harvey “Smokey” Daniels of Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry. She is an international speaker and staff developer in schools around the world– bridging literacy, inquiry, and social identity work through curriculum development, professional growth meetings, and lab classrooms. Sara currently serves as the Director of Curriculum Integration and Innovation at Catherine Cook School in Chicago. She has taught and coached in public and private, local, and international schools. Sara supports the development and facilitation of gatherings designed to help student and adult learners examine their own identities and get proximate to the lived truths of others. When she is not meeting with teachers, you can find her running, playing tennis with her Dad, or coaching the soccer teams at school. Sara worked with Re-Imagining Migration on the study guide to Frontera and was the subject of our very first educator profile.

Eliza Brumbaugh has been working with international populations for over a decade. She holds a Master’s of Education with a focus in Global Studies. Eliza served TESOL International in the Refugee Concerns Interest Section Committee as the 2022-2023 Chair and now serves as Past Chair. She served as a board member for UNA-USA Tampa Bay as Director of Education and volunteered as a photography instructor through their program for refugee youth, “Picture My Life”. In addition to teaching in Korea, Tunisia, Spain, and various places in the US, Eliza has developed and managed ESOL, Citizenship, and Family Literacy programs in the Tampa Bay area, as well as education programs for African and Caribbean adult and youth learners in Philadelphia. She is passionate about advocacy, education and art, and blending these to generate healing through expression and community. Eliza finds the work of Re-Imagining Migration to be essential through her experience of working with newcomer youth in the public school systems and seeing how the dynamics of understanding, or lack thereof, affect everyone involved – from the newcomer youth to their classmates, teachers, and parents. Working with Re-Imagining Migration, Eliza hopes to create a lasting impact – improving the outcomes for newcomers and the wider communities in her home city of Philadelphia, nationally, and perhaps globally

“Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Astrid Emily Francis is a nationally recognized English as a Second Language teacher at Concord High School in Concord, North Carolina. She serves students at various English proficiency levels. Emily is originally from Guatemala and her experience as an English Language Learner inspired her to become an ESL teacher. This affords her a deep understanding of the challenges her students must overcome to succeed. Emily earned a BA in Spanish and a MAT in ESL from UNC-Charlotte. She serves as a professional development facilitator, motivational and keynote speaker. Emily is part of UNC-Charlotte College of Education’s Advisory Board. Emily served as teacher liaison to the Cabarrus County Board of Education as a district Teacher of the Year in 2016. Emily is the author of If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher. As a leader, Emily’s focus is to inspire students to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.

Larissa Giacomán teaches Spanish at St. Stephens and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. She is the Founder of KidSpanish, an after-school program for children to learn a second language. Larissa is involved in multiple organizations, including the National Network for Early Language Learners, NNELL, where is a State Representative for DC and Virginia, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, ACTFL, where she has presented on “EdTech Implementation and Creativity for Learning in the Target Language”, and “The Art of Seeing: Thinking Routines for Global Competence”. Larissa is member of ACTFL’s Affinity Group for Immigrant Educators and a member of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, AATSP, through which she sponsored SANTITOS, a chapter of the Sociedad Hispánica de Amistad, nominated Honorable Mention for Best Chapter of the year 2023. She is a Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Language, GWATFL, Vice President for 2023-2024. She presented in 2023 at the International Society for Technology in Education, ISTE, in a collaboration with the Smithsonian Zoo Bird Migration Center and will be presenting in June 2024 on “What’s your Superpower? Cultivating Identity Appreciation. Larissa advocates for language and cultural competency through the use of authentic resources, diverse and inclusive representation, and social-emotional practices.

Sasha Guzman. After 18 years of teaching in Los Angeles, California, I moved to and began teaching in the state capital of Sacramento in July 2021. As a social justice educator, I have created a classroom environment that supports both academic growth and the social-emotional well-being of my students. Restorative justice practices are the foundation for all of my interactions with them, as well as with colleagues. I work hard to empower and nurture my students’ self-actualization on all levels so that they may see themselves as agents of change.  I pride myself on creating opportunities for them to articulate their voices and experiences. My moral imperative is to create a curriculum that is culturally relevant, inclusive, and based on a foundation of love, respect, compassion, and humanity. I am a fierce anti-racist educator who strives to make my classroom a courageous space for anyone who enters it. Sasha’s work was featured in Re-Imagining Migration in the Classroom webinar and she was part of the team that reviewed the study guide for Frontera. 

Jessica Lander is an award-winning teacher, writer and author. She teaches history and civics to recent immigrant students in a Massachusetts public high school and has won numerous awards for her teaching, including being named the 2023 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; a 2023 MA Teacher of the Year Finalist, presented by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and a Top 50 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2021, presented by the Varkey Foundation. Jessica writes frequently about education policy and teaching. She is the author of Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education, a coauthor of Powerful Partnerships: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success and the author of Driving Backwards. Jessica has authored several blogs on the Re-Imagining Migration website and she has generously shared two collections of her student’s poetry that were inspired by Re-Imagining Migration’s approach.

Sandy Mendoza has dedicated 25 years to education, primarily at the elementary level. She currently works as an EL Immersion teacher, specializing in supporting new students in academic and social-emotional capacities. Nominated for Teacher of Distinction in 2018, she initiated the International Café, fostering connections and leadership among newcomers in the school. Pursuing a master’s degree in School Counseling, Sandy aims to enhance her ability to help students acculturate to the school and community as well as continue to support student success and well-being. An interview with Sandy is featured on the Re-Imagining Migration website. 

Donna Neary leads from the classroom in Chattanooga, TN, teaching English Language Development in middle school. Prior to that she and fellow educators innovated the Accelerate to Graduate pilot in a Title 1 school in Louisville, KY, increasing graduation rates for multilingual learners. She was named Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of Kentucky for 2018 based on that work. She is an ASCD Class of 2022 Emerging Leader and 2023 ASCD grant recipient. She is a National Geographic Society Covid-19 Remote Learning Emergency Fund for Educators Grant recipient, and 2020 Re-imagining Migration Fellow, contributing articles and partnering on a migration curriculum. She frequently submits articles to Edsurge.com.

Sarah Said is an educator who has served in various roles: teacher, assistant principal, dean, curriculum coordinator and multilingual coordinator. Sarah is an advocate for the students she serves and is a strong voice in education. She has been published in various publications such as Learning for JusticeEdWeekTeaching Channel, and Confianza. Sarah attended her first Re-Imagining Migration seminar in 2019. Learn about the project she developed through her Re-Imagining Migration fellowship here.

 

Shari Wejsa is a History and Spanish teacher at High Point Regional High School in NJ and has served as a Re-Imagining Migration Educator Fellow. She holds a B.A. in History & Spanish and Ed.M. in Social Studies from Rutgers, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Columbia University, and an M.A. in Latin American History from Emory University. With a Fulbright research grant, she worked alongside truth commissions to investigate human rights violations committed during Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985) and the implications of educational access for Afro-Brazilian girls. At Emory, she researched the experiences of Angolan refugees in Brazil, engaged in human rights advocacy, and taught migration history. As an educator, she promotes global citizenship, interdisciplinarity, and community engagement and collaborated with Re-Imagining Migration at her school’s interdisciplinary Stand Up Against Hate Symposium. She also emphasizes inclusive classroom environments that elevate individual and cultural diversity and collective identity. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, traveling, and visiting museums.