Hyam Elsaharty

Stephen T. Mather High School , Chicago IL

Investigate programs within refugee and public schools in Malaysia to expand existing advisory curriculum by creating a series of meaningful units that meet the specific social and emotional needs of Malaysian and refugee students.

Where I've Been

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

My Fellowship in Images

Sports Day at the Rohingyan Education Center in Penang
Hyam and Bryan and the National Mosque of Malaysianat
Spending the day at the Rohingyan Education Center in Klang
A day at the Rulang School in Singapore observing social and emotional learning in action
Exploring the Batu Caves in Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia
Sporting our Malaysian digs!

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

My knowledge of the Rohingyan refugee crisis has grown and I see how I fit into the solution. With the increasing number of students coming from Malaysia as refugees, I now have a better idea of how I can pick up where students' previous schooling has left off. Moreover, I now have the skill set and knowledge to design more effective social and emotional learning curriculum and/or modifications to support these students. I feel more capable and confident to speak to students and assist them.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

The biggest impact on my instructional practice has two parts. Part one is that I have been a more active advocate in programming and ensuring my students are placed in the correct classes. In addition, I am advocating multi-tiered supports for students who I believe may benefit from an IEP. The second part is that I have been inspired to go back to school and get my English as a Second Language endorsement. By the start of the new school year, I will be able to teach our ESL populations.

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

My greatest personal accomplishment is my plan of personal action. Many times I reflect and think about what I can do to make a difference, but this time I have actually taken a step by starting my ESL endorsement. By the end of this school year I will have completed six classes and can put in the paperwork to begin teaching the immigrant and refugee population in my building. My old self would have likely just pondered what I could do after this experience and I'm really proud of taking action.

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

My experiences will positively impact student learning through how I apply all I've learned in the classroom and through our advisory program. Each teacher is now provided with a tip and/or modification to facilitate a more inclusive environment. This will impact not only the population with whom we worked, but all ELL students. Students have approached me more freely after knowing I've had this fellowship experience with questions and feedback. It's bridged my connection even with new students!

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

As mentioned, all my colleagues will benefit from the new ELL additions to our advisory program. I have partnered with a teacher who is organizing a Refugee and Immigrant Resource fair by connecting him with two outside organizations. I will bring ideas for supporting our ELL students in math to my teacher collaborative team (TCT). My TCT meets weekly so I will have the opportunity for check back and monitoring of intervention progress. We will also continue to work on new advisory curriculum.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

I envision consistent recognition and celebration in and out of the classroom. Each quarter we have a grade level assembly and our goal is to recognize students for even minor achievements. I will be pushing my colleagues to not overlook our ESL population and may make it a point that we have a certain number of students from both our ESL and DL population recognized.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

Ways that my students work to make a difference in our school and community as of recent are involvement in our student leadership program and preparing to take part in the Mather Immigrant and Refugee Services fair. Those on the leadership team mentor underclassmen during our advisory period, guiding them to make positive academic and social-emotional decisions. Students who are participating in the fair are meeting bi-weekly to be trained on facilitating talking circles.

How would you describe to a friend or a grant funder the most fundamental ways in which your fellowship has changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

This fellowship has changed my entire career path. This is my eighth year as a special education teacher and I have found myself starting a program to earn my ESL endorsement. I have always been drawn to the challenges of resettlement and I believe that my place at this time in my life is near the end of this process through the scope of education. I hope to teach the population of newcomers at my school and provide a safe, academically rich learning environment.