Reclaiming The Language Contributors

ruslana wcer 2016

The creator of the Reclaiming The Language blog is Ruslana Westerlund @ellbillofrights who is passionate about elevating the status of students of minority language backgrounds and the status of teachers who work with students representing various languages and cultures.   Her story is described in detail at the About The Author page.  




Rita Platt and John Wolf

Authors of Out of The Peaceable Kingdom: The Three Roles of The ESL Teacherrita and john

Rita Platt (@ritaplatt) is a Nationally Board Certified teacher. Her experience includes teaching learners of all levels from kindergarten to graduate student. She currently is a Library Media Specialist for the St. Croix Falls SD in Wisconsin, teaches graduate courses for the Professional Development Institute, and consults with local school districts.

John Wolfe (@johnwolfe3rd) is a teacher on special assignment for the Multilingual Department at the Minneapolis Public School District. He has worked with students at all levels as well as provided professional development to fellow teachers. His areas of expertise include English Language Learners, literacy, and integrated technology.

anne dahlman

Anne Dahlman

Author of Infusing Rigor and Meaning Into Language Instruction

Dr. Anne Dahlman is Professor of K-12 and Secondary Education and the incoming Honors Director (Summer, 2015) at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her main professional interest focuses on Equity and Academic Excellence. Dr. Dahlman has eighteen years of experience in higher education, having taught in two-year, four-year, and doctoral institutions in four states and internationally.  Dr. Dahlman is a teacher, teacher educator, researcher, linguist and has worked as an ESL, EFL and foreign language instructor.  Dr. Dahlman is a proud immigrant from Finland, is fluent in four languages and has lived in four countries.   

Sirad Shirdon

Author of Culturally Responsive Approaches For Working with Somali Children

Sirad Shirdon (@SomaliLiteracy) is a PhD student in Language, Education & Society at the Ohio State University and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist.   Her research interests center on the early childhood education of immigrant and refugee communities, particularly in the areas  of language, literacy, school readiness and special education.  She is currently working on her dissertation which will look at how Somali families with special needs children understand and navigate school readiness.  She describes herself as first and foremost an activist and community member, and is passionate about producing research which empowers culturally and linguistically diverse communities.    As a part of her commitment to the Somali communities in the United States and globally, she recently co-funded the Somali Literacy Project ( .  The initiative seeks to educate Somali families about school readiness, literacy and disability as well as informing professionals who work with Somali families about how to provide culturally responsive care and education for Somali children.  


Jennifer Hernandez

Author of The Good-Enough-Co-teacher

Jennifer has been a teacher of English learners for more than 20 years.  She teaches stand-alone English classes and co-teaches math and science at Plymouth Middle School in the Robbinsdale District (MN), where she has worked for the past 16 years.  Jennifer has also taught in Japan, Mexico and El Paso, TX.  In addition to teaching, Jennifer keeps busy wrangling her three school-aged sons and writing poetry.

rebecca desrochesRebecca DesRoches

Author of Academic Discourse in the Secondary Classroom.

Rebecca and her husband, Andy, have been living outside of Canada for the last sixteen years.   After time in Portugal, Mozambique, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia they are excited to have the opportunity to work in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the American School of Dubai.     Parents of two amazing kids in Canadian universities and happy owners of two quirky golden retrievers, they love their work with students in the Middle East.   Rebecca teaches high school mathematics (Algebra II, Pre-Calculus) to juniors and seniors and relishes the opportunity to bring this subject to life for her students. 

christel broady

Christel Broady

Author of Using Immigrant Children as Pawn in Pre-Election Times A teacher trainer and internationally known author and speaker, Christel Broady is also an immigrant, mother of a bilingual school-age child, member of a tri-cultural household, and English learner herself. She is an advocate for educators and families in her state and beyond. An internationally acclaimed author and speaker earning multiple awards, Dr. Broady also runs a Professional Learning Community for individuals interested in English learning and teaching and culture. It can be found on Facebook (Broadyesl), BLOG, LinkedIn (Christel Broady), and Twitter. It is free of charge for anyone who would like to join.

Max_Ginsberg (002)Max Ginsberg @maxginsberg

Author of Bringing Academic Language to the Mainstream: Using Sentence Frames to Collaborate with Classroom Teachers.  

He teaches English learners at Prairie View Elementary in Eden Prairie. He has taught preschool, elementary and high school students in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Taiwan. He received his M.Ed. in English as a Second Language from the University of Minnesota after receiving a bachelor’s degree in History and Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recently he participated in the West Metro Leadership Academy where he implemented a school-wide change project to bring academic language to the forefront of classroom instruction.



Jenna Cushing-Leubner

Co-author with Alexa LaPatka of the blog Aren’t Some Students Too Young to Talk About Critical Issues?.  

She is a PhD candidate in Second Language Education at the University of Minnesota.  For the last three years, she has been working with teachers and Latin@ high school students to develop Spanish for Native Speakers/Heritage Learners classes that use critical civic inquiry, ethnic studies content, arts-based pedagogies, and youth research to support home language retrieval, maintenance, and acquisition, and to forge multilingual spaces in otherwise predominantly English-speaking schools.

alexaAlexa LaPatka 

Co-author with Jenna Cushing-Leubner of of the blog Aren’t Some Students Too Young to Talk About Critical Issues?.  

She teaches English learners at Whittier International School in Minneapolis. She has taught elementary and middle school students in urban Minnesota for two years. She received her M.Ed. in English as a Second Language from the University of Minnesota after receiving a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies from the College of Saint Benedict.


luciana de oliviera

Luciana de Oliveira

Co-author with Ruslana Westerlund of the blog Much More Than a Reclassification Issue: ELLs in K-12.  

She is Associate Professor in the Language and Literacy Learning in Multilingual Settings program area in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida. Her research focuses on issues related to teaching English language learners (ELLs) at the K-12 level, including the role of language in learning the content areas; teacher education, advocacy and social justice; and nonnative English-speaking teachers in TESOL. Currently, Luciana’s research examines the linguistic challenges of the Common Core State Standards for ELLs and their implications for teachers of ELLs.

Luciana is the series editor of five volumes focused on the Common Core and ELLs(2014-2016) with TESOL Press. She has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited 10 books and has several others under contract or in review and has published a number of refereed journal articles and book chapters. Luciana has over 20 years of teaching experience in the field of TESOL and is an elected board member for the TESOL International Association (2013-2016). Among many awards and honors, in 2012 she was the recipient of the Early Career Award by the Bilingual Education Research special interest group of AERA.

Miranda Schornack (2)

Miranda Schornack

Author of Will English learner relicensure policy actually improve professional development in Minnesota districts?

Miranda is a doctoral student in Second Language Education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. For three years she instructed the English as a Second Language (ESL) methods course for content area pre-service teachers. She has also supervised teacher candidates in clinical placements and coordinated and facilitated professional development for clinical supervisors. Currently, she is involved in the research and development of a dispositions coaching system for educators. Prior to her work as a doctoral student, Miranda taught ESL for seven years in Minnesota public schools where she developed a passion for engaging mainstream teachers in professional development around working with English learners (ELs). She also has experience teaching adult ELs at St. Cloud State University and at the Wall Street Institute in Concepción, Chile.


If you would like to nominate a student, a teacher, or an equity-driven educational leader whose leadership made a difference in the lives of language learners, please contact me at


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