Faculty Fellows: Dr. Lan Kolano

photo of Lan Kolano
Dr. Lan Kolano

Project Description

Developing Teachers as Social Advocates for Immigrant Youth through Sustained Grassroots Community and School Partnerships

In response to the need to create authentic experiences with English Learners (ELs) for teacher education candidates, the proposed project, “Developing Teachers as Social Advocates for Immigrant Youth through Sustained Grassroots Community and School Partnerships” explores an alternative model of field experience designed to develop the teacher as a community advocate. Using a social justice lens, Dr. Kolano will connect the COED with the local community by working with several non-profit organizations and school partners that serve immigrant youth and their families. Specifically, candidates will be connected to the Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC) and ourBRIDGE, two local non-profit organizations that serve the largest numbers of refugee/immigrant youth from Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia in Charlotte. The Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC) is a local grassroots non-profit organization that was established to create a voice that addresses the needs of the Southeast Asian population in North Carolina. SEAC was founded with the aim of serving community needs and fostering empowerment within youth. The Youth Program currently serves over 50 high school immigrant youth from Southeast Asia at risk of dropping out. ourBRIDGE serves 70 newly arrived immigrant and refugee children grades K-5 from Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, The Gambia, Vietnam, Burma, Bhutan, Thailand, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Both organizations serve the immigrant community by empowering youth through advocacy and civic engagement while providing them with both linguistic and academic support. In addition, Newell Elementary will serve as a critical university school partner for this project. By serving the community at Newell and within these two different community organizations in different capacities, teacher education candidates will learn about the complex linguistic, academic, and social needs of the immigrant community though direct field work conducted in authentic contexts. This project will help to raise awareness of complex issues that immigrant youth face as they navigate educational, social, and educational systems in Charlotte.


Dr. Kolano is Professor of Education and the Graduate Program Director of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Programs. She teaches foundational courses that emphasize culturally responsive pedagogy in urban school contexts. She has numerous publications on the language/identity development of immigrants and the multicultural efficacy development of teachers. She has been the recipient of the College of Education’s Excellence in Teaching, the Excellence in Diversity Award, and one of four finalists for the Provost’s Faculty Award for Community Engagement. Since joining the faculty in 2004, she has provided sustained outreach to schools through the professional development training of teachers and administrators in six different districts throughout North Carolina. Recognized as an advocate for social justice education, she currently serves on critical advisory boards for local non-profit organizations serving local refugee/immigrant communities in North Carolina. Through her work with local schools and the community, she has helped establish UNC Charlotte as a trusted local partner and advocate for education and diversity.