News From the Field

REL Southwest Holds Newcomer Workshop in Houston to Explore Resources for Immigrant Students

On March 8, 2016, REL Southwest held a timely workshop on the emerging issue of newcomer students, immigrant children recently arrived to the United States, and the special needs and concerns of that population. The workshop was sponsored by the REL Southwest English Learners Research Alliance. This highly successful event drew more than 100 participants from five states.

Alliance Liaison Dr. Linda Cavazos opened the workshop by informing the group about projects the research alliance is working on that are related to newcomers. Newcomer experts Dr. Deborah J. Short and Dr. Brenda Custodio presented to the group on what we know about newcomers, who they tend to be, what their needs are, and what research tells us about helping them succeed. In the latter half of the day, district representatives from around Texas presented about their own newcomer programs to their peers during a World Café session. The group shared experiences and discussed ideas and resources.

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Presenters Dr. Brenda Custodio,
REL Southwest Liaison Dr. Linda Cavazos,
and Dr. Deborah Short.

Many newcomers are English learner students, and they come from countries all over the world and make up dozens of ethnicities. Their level of preparedness for school varies from those who are performing at grade level to those with little formal education. In addition to special supports for academic and language needs, the expert presenters demonstrated that newcomer students need moral supports and orienting to life in their new homes. The event was sponsored by REL Southwest and held in Houston at the Lone Star College University Park Conference Center. View the event webpage.

Districts present at World Cafe   Districts present at World Cafe

Districts present to peers about their newcomer programs during the World Café.


Districts present to peers about their newcomer programs during the World Café.

Dr. Brenda Custodio   Dr. Deborah J. Short

Dr. Brenda Custodio presents at the newcomer workshop.


Dr. Deborah J. Short presents to the group.