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Supporting Refugees and their Families in Schools 

[presentation is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 21 at 2 pm]


Presenters:  Saabiriin Hussein and Cookie J. Brand


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 workshop will focus on meeting the needs of the whole child and family and helping connect them with outside resources and services in the community. Examples of services from our school mental health team, including two social workers, a school counselor, and a school psychologist will be shared. 

A short video highlighting some of our refugee students will be shared and then Saabiriinn, an eighth-grade student from MDS, will share her own experience from a refugee camp in Kenya to where she is now. She will highlight what supports or strategies were the most helpful during the transition to Minnesota and to Metro Deaf School.

Presenters’ Bios:

Saabiriinn Hussein was born in Nairobi, Kenya until the age of 9 when she moved to Minnesota with her family. She is the oldest of 5 siblings. Currently, Saabiriinn is in the 8th grade at the Metro Deaf School and served on the Battle of the Books Green team. Saabiriinn is also a motivational learner that enjoys reading, socializing with friends, and taking walks. She looks up to her mom and aunt. Saabiriinn’s outlook on life includes being positive and hopes for equal human rights for all.

Cookie J Brand is a School Counselor at the Metro Deaf School in St. Paul, MN. Cookie spent two years in central Kenya as a Peace Corps Volunteer where she taught deaf and hard of hearing children at the Kerugoya School for the Deaf. Returning to the US, Cookie fulfilled the third goal of the Peace Corps - “to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans” by sharing her first-hand world experience and found a love for supporting people as a whole person. Cookie enjoys still-life photography, volunteering, eating international food and dancing.