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Lessons from the Field: Supporting the Social Emotional Learning Needs of Afghan and Other Newcomer Students

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools and the Office of English Language Acquisition, the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE), together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hosted this webinar on strategies to assist Afghan and other newcomer students to American schools. As part of the Operation Allies Welcome, these federal agencies recognize the immediate and urgent need to provide high-quality, culturally responsive approaches to support the social and emotional needs of Afghan students into their new learning environments. The information presented was also relevant to other newcomer student populations. A panel discussion with practitioners from the field directly engaged with supporting newcomers followed.


  • Jessica Swan, Ph.D.: Education Program Specialist, Office of English Language Acquisition, U.S. Department of Education
  • Ruth Ryder: Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Kabrillen Jones: Chief of Staff, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education
  • Jorge Verlenden, Ph.D.: Behavioral Scientist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Shereen Naser, Ph.D.: Assistant Professor, Cleveland State University
  • Lysette Lemay and Lisa Levasseur: Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove, CA
  • Molly Hegwood and Alexandra Castillo: Metro Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN
  • Nate Dunstan: Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, CA