Why We Exist
Trauma reduction may be the single most critical and overlooked barrier in education for refugees and those fleeing emergencies. Refugee youth who are in the classroom experience interlinked psychosocial issues that often have a significant impact on meaningful learning (UNFPA et al., 2014; UNHCR, 2013) Addressing trauma to support literacy development is an issue that cuts across disciplines, but training for teachers and education paraprofessionals does not address trauma. The United States has just one graduate school of education with a trauma-informed curriculum (Lesley University in Massachusetts). The Interagency Network for Emergency Education (INEE) is developing conflict-sensitive modules but studies have found that programs are needed to bridge the gap between research and practice. Teachers need ongoing mentoring and support to best meet the complex needs of students suffering severe psychological fallout- such as depression and post-traumatic stress. With 50 million primary and lower secondary age children out of school in conflict-affected countries (Save the Children, 2013), and studies are finding that nearly half of all the 4 million refugees from Syria are suffering from trauma, the need to address student trauma to ease the transition to formal school is more acute than ever.
Our Theory of Change
Nomad Schools accelerates the transition of out of school students into formal education by increasing the capacity of community-based refugee educators with limited formal training to understand and respond to trauma. To address the dual needs of teacher shortages and trauma reduction, Nomad trains teachers to utilize storytelling in English-language classes improve self-expression and heal from trauma. We achieve this through a tiered teacher mentoring system that connects academic experts, teachers, and students in need. In partnership with Project ECHO, we aim to provide trauma informed care consultation, education and technical assistance to human service organizations interested in furthering their integration of trauma-informed child and family education. By equipping language teachers with the tools they need to be “Storytelling for ESL” teachers and mentors, we believe we can scale the personalized support ecosystem that at-risk learners need most but is often seen as too resource-intensive for emergency education interventions. Allowing students better means to participate and co-construct their learning will accelerate literacy outcomes and foster community-building environments for positive youth development. Through this program, we can better equip education systems to deliver quality education to the estimated 60 million displaced individuals around the world. Our model believes that by addressing learners’ internal needs for healing and stability, we will accelerate positive learning outcomes.
In the last two years, Nomad has provided professional training, curriculum development and mentoring support to ESL teachers with limited resources and training that are providing English instruction. We started with training ESL peer educators in the migrant worker community of New Orleans and are now in the process of working with the Syrian teachers in Jusoor’s innovative Refugee Education program in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley co-developing a teacher training curriculum that leverages Jusoor’s culturally relevant best practices for preparing Syrian students for entry into the Lebanese formal education system.