Multicultural classroom

Editor's Note: This story was written for the 2018 Spring/Summer Arbor Light magazine, a bi-annual publication of Concordia University Ann Arbor. Catch the newest edition dropping in mailboxes at the end of April. For your free subscription of Arbor Light, email

Concordia University Ann Arbor is taking a personal approach to teacher education in order to better serve Michigan’s rapidly growing multicultural population.

This year, Concordia will see its second English as a Second Language (ESL) cohort complete the Graduate Education Endorsement program. The educators, all of whom are full-time teachers in Detroit-area schools, will receive an endorsement that certifies them to provide specialized language instruction to the booming number of multicultural students who are entering their schools.

While other universities in the state are striving to address the need in various ways, what sets Concordia’s School of Education apart is its flexibility and willingness to meet the teachers where they are at, says Dr. Marilyn Meell, CUAA’s graduate education director.

Case in point: All of the graduates in CUAA’s inaugural cohort earned their ESL certificates last school year thanks to a unique agreement Concordia extended to The Dearborn Academy, a charter school that serves a predominantly diverse community. Instead of holding classes on the CUAA campus, Concordia’s instructors traveled to the metro Detroit school for the convenience of the staff.

“Our size has been a motivating factor for a number of our students so far because they know they will receive individualized attention from their instructors and because we’re able to be flexible where many other schools can’t be,” Meell says. “There are already a number of obstacles standing in the way of getting more ESL teachers in the classroom, and so we want to do what we can to eliminate barriers.”

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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