© 2023 by Deaf Refugee Advocacy. Proudly created with Wix.com


For more information about DRC, contact at info@reachoutDRA.org

  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon

Refugee, New to Country, New to School:  Where Do We Start?

[presentation is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 22 at 3 pm]


Presenters:  Susan Outlaw-Lane, Kelly Anderson, and Melissa Sweetwater


Description of the Presentation:

Metro Deaf School, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is an ASL/English bilingual school serving Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing children from 2-21 years of age. MDS is a diverse school with over 25% of our students being first or second generation refugees mainly from North Eastern Africa and South Eastern Asia. It is not uncommon to have students arrive at Metro Deaf School with no formal language and their first time to be in a school setting. Staff members have worked with families and students at helping to make this transition a positive one. 

This presentation will focus on classroom strategies, school culture, and expectations, family involvement. Assessment, identification, and meeting the needs of refugee children will be discussed along with strategies to support children and families during the large transition into the United States’ school system. Classroom examples will be discussed and demonstrated for educating the whole child from language development to social and emotional needs. Experiences and changes made at Metro Deaf School to support school and family communication will also be shared.

Presenters’ Bios:

Dr. Susan Lane-Outlaw is the executive director at Metro Deaf School in Saint Paul, MN. She previously was an assistant professor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and she has worked in the field of Deaf education for 25 years. She earned her doctorate degree from Gallaudet University.  Her research and teaching interests include content literacy, ASL/English bilingual education, instructional strategies, formative assessment, and educational settings and placement decisions for Deaf and DeafBlind students.

Kelly Anderson is a D/HH teacher and certified interpreter. She worked as an itinerant teacher and resource room teacher for the first 8 years of her teaching career. This is her 21st year teaching at Metro Deaf School.  She has many years of experience working with students who are new to the United States and who are new language learners. In addition to her D/HH license, she also has her license in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorders.  She enjoys teaching all students but especially likes working with students who are unique learners.  

Melissa Sweetmilk is an Elementary Principal at Metro Deaf School in St Paul, MN, a charter school that serves Deaf and Hard of Hearing students grades PK-12+ in the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota.  As a Deaf professional she is passionate about the lives and education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.  Previously she has served as a school social worker, before becoming an administrator, with a combined 17 years in Deaf Education.  Melissa earned her BA and MSW degrees from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of Minnesota.