The Oakland International High School Learning Lab partners with teacher education programs, the district English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement Office, and educators around the Bay Area, to train and develop educators who are eager to support the success of our newest students.
Oakland International High School opened in 2007 to serve Oakland's growing immigrant and refugee student population. Since our opening, our district and our state have undergone a significant shift in demographics, as many more immigrants, refugees, asylees, and Unaccompanied Minors have immigrated to our cities and enrolled in our schools.
As of June 2016, more than 51% of students in Oakland schools speak a language other than English in their homes. In addition, 1 in 7 high school students is a Newcomer, who has immigrated to our country within the last 3 years. These dramatic changes in our district's demographics have created a great need for our school to work in partnership with the wider educational community, to support and partner with other educators who are working to serve recently arrived immigrants in our state.
Data from California Department of Education, 2019. Compiled by Sam Finn, in collaboration with the Oakland International Learning Lab, the Internationals Network for Public Schools, and the Sobrato Family Foundation.
Through research and policy partnerships over the years, we know that meeting the needs of Newcomer students in California is an urgent civil rights issue--we have more than 175,000 Newcomer students in our state, which is more than the total K12 enrollment in many other US states. The majority of our Newcomers are in just 5 California Counties, and 67% are socioeconomically disadvantaged. We are proud to support our newest students and to work in partnership with other counties, districts, schools, and community organizations who are doing the same.
OIHS opens it doors to teachers, administrators, school support staff, district personnel, educational non-profits, community members, and members of the post-secondary community who want to learn from our school and our experiences. Our school succeeds in serving the immigrant population in Oakland because we work in partnership with the many families, agencies, and organizations throughout the Bay Area who are also dedicated to helping our students grow and thrive. Our annual Community Walks highlight our students' experiences and knowledge, and set the stage for deep adult learning about how we can better work in partnership with our students and their families.
If you are interested in learning about the academic and social-emotional supports we provide to students at Oakland International, please consider attending one of our Open House events, which are hosted by our staff, students, and teachers. Our Open Houses will provide structured opportunities for guests to learn about the Internationals Approach to teaching newcomers, visit classrooms, and attend pull out sessions dedicated to subjects such as the master schedule, school design, teacher professional development, technology integration and general support services for ELLs. We will also provide facilitated time for teachers, administrators, and design teams to apply what they have learned and begin planning how to better serve students in their own programs.
If you are interested in learning more about the communities we serve, consider attending our Community Walks, hosted by our students, families, and partners throughout Oakland. Our students lead visitors through a day in which they learn about the driving forces behind immigration from different countries around the world, the immigration and resettlement process, and the local agencies and organizations that are supporting immigrants here in Oakland. Our Community Walks are a much-cherished, student-led tradition at our school and are always an eye-opening experience for everyone who attends. We are excited about the prospect of sharing these experiences with even more advocates and supporters beyond the walls of Oakland International High School.
Upcoming Open House Dates:
Student-Led "Community Walks," Wed, January 29th, 2020
(1:00-4:00): Learn from OIHS students about their communities' strengths, resources and challenges as new immigrants in the U.S., and visit community centers to learn from Oakland community leaders and OIHS families.
Spring Open House, Wed, March 18th, 2020 (8:30-3:00):
School Mission & History, Classroom Visits & Small Group Learning Sessions on OIHS programs & practices
Portfolio Observations, Friday, April 24th, 2020 (8:00-12:30):
Learn about OIHS's Portfolio Process and observe student presentations
Educators Served in 18-19
Languages Spoken at OIHS
Students Served Annually
As an educational system, there is still so much to learn about how to serve our high school newcomer students academically, socially, and emotionally. Over the years, we have worked as a staff to investigate data trends that reflect how our students learn and acquire language. We have also hosted researchers from nearby universities whose fields of study overlapped with our own needs and growth areas as a school.
We support teacher inquiry and action research projects that can ultimately benefit schools and educators who are working to serve newcomers around the country. Contact us if you are interested in being a partner focused on research that supports better outcomes for newcomer students in our schools.
2018-2019 Research Reports
Newcomer Students in California by Sam Finn
2017-2018 Research Reports
Yoga and Mindfulness with Newcomer Students by Kristina Mendez
Pathways to Success Project: Sense of community predicts psychological adjustment among newcomer immigrant youth by Mercedes P. Palacios, Celeste H. Poe, Rehan Sheikh, David E. Reed, II, Sita G. Patel, Ph.D.
Measures of Social Emotional Learning by Ruth Chung Wei, Ph.D.
2016-2017 Research Reports
Across the United States, English Language Learners are the fastest growing population of students in our public schools. There is an urgent need to develop academic programs and social support systems to help our newly arrived immigrant students succeed and thrive in our communities. We are eager to work in partnership with other schools and organizations who are dedicated to serving this population of students socially, academically, and emotionally through their work.
Since 1995, the Internationals Network for Public schools has been supporting the growth and development of schools around the country in service of our growing immigrant population. They have combined years of classroom expertise with the latest research about trauma-informed pedagogy and language acquisition to create professional development experiences for organizations of all sizes to better learn how to serve the English Learners in their schools. As a Learning Lab housed within one of the Internationals schools, we are excited about the opportunity to host learning experiences for visitors at our school, to see the model in action, or to bring learning experiences to other sites, tailored to the individual needs of the educators we are working with.
If you are interested in setting up a professional development workshop, please let us know how we can help:
In 2017, the Oakland International Learning Lab began a partnership with the Reach Institute, to create a new teacher pipeline for Newcomer students in Oakland. Together, we raised funds and recruited educators who were already working with Newcomer students across the city. These future teachers will be in a Newcomer-focused cohort hosted at Oakland International High School and taught by Reach faculty, so that they can earn their California Preliminary Teaching Credential while learning from the best practices at OIHS on how to support their Newcomer students. Credential candidates receive a financial scholarship for their participation in the program, in return for committing to working in OUSD schools upon entering their second year with the Reach Institute.
The Learning Lab also supports scholarships and training for future administrators in OUSD who are enrolled in the Reach Institute's Leadership program. These future leaders of Oakland schools learn how to structurally and systemically support the learning of Newcomer students through day-long workshops held at Oakland International High School, while earning their Preliminary Administrative Credential.
If you are applying to the Reach Institute Teaching Academy credential program, work with Newcomer students, and plan to continue your teaching career in OUSD, please consider applying to our scholarship assistance fund, which provides $5,000 to educators who meet the above criteria. The number of scholarships available each year varies depending on the availability of funding. We expect to fund at least 5 scholarships for participants beginning their program in Fall 2020.
Lauren Markham, Learning Lab Director
Lauren Markham is an educator who has spent more than fifteen years working at the intersection of immigration and education. Lauren served as a program partner for OIHS since the school's inception, working the International Rescue Committee, The Oakland Unified School District's Refugee & Asylee Program, and Refugee Transitions. In 2011, Lauren joined the OIHS team as the Community School Manager, building the school's socio-emotional services and non-academic programming in service newcomer students and families. She is the author of the award-winning 2017 book, The Far Away Brothers, and her writing on education and migration has been published in outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, The New Republic, Mother Jones, Harper's and The Atlantic.
Sailaja Suresh, OUSD Senior Director, School Operations
Founding Teacher & Learning Lab Support Staff
Sailaja was a founding teacher at Oakland International High School, where she later served as an instructional coach and Co-Principal. She previously worked for the Boston Public Schools as a technology support specialist, where she managed a math and technology professional development program and co-authored the district's long-term technology plan. She left Boston to travel around the world and to return to work in the public schools of California, where she is most at home. Sailaja has a BS in Business Administration and a minor in Religious Studies from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Carmelita Reyes, OUSD Senior Director, School Operations
Founding Principal & Learning Lab Support Staff
Carmelita is the founding principal of Oakland International High School. Prior to becoming principal, she was a founding teacher at Life Academy of Health and Bio-Science located in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. There, she taught 10th grade humanities, journalism and photography. In 2005 she was awarded the honor of "Oakland Unified School District Teacher of the Year,” and in 2007 she was named “Oakland Educator of the Year” by the Marcus Foster Foundation. Carmelita began her teaching career in New York City, teaching to a primarily Dominican population. Carmelita received her BA in Economics at Princeton University and studied abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received a Masters in Education at Columbia University and received her administrative credential from National Equity Project and California State East Bay.
Veronica Garcia Montejano, Principal
Veronica left the more lucrative field of banking to come to education. Then for 6 years, Veronica led the ELD classes at Roosevelt Middle School before joining the OIHS staff. She worked for 2 years as history teacher and summer school administrator before transitioning to coaching. She has extensive experience as a leader of PD and as a BTSA coach. Veronica graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and from The University of Texas at Austin with a Masters in Art History. She holds credentials in both English and Social Science.