A Teacher/Advocate for Diverse Students

Lorlie Sardinia, a graduate of Antioch University Seattle’s Master’s of Education (MAEd) graduate program, is giving back in a big way.

Sardinia currently works as an English Language Development teacher at Van Asselt Elementary School, a Seattle public school, taking action to enrich the lives of a diverse group of students. She works in a low-income school in which many children are refugees and/or staying in homeless shelters, 94% of children are people of color, and 40% of children are English learners.

In addition to helping her students as a classroom teacher, she also takes the extra step of advocating for her students by joining school committees, such as the Race and Equity Team, Safety Committee, Cultural Committee, the PTA, etc.

Sardinia’s own background as an immigrant from the Philippines helps inform her work because she has insider knowledge about what it’s like to move to a new country and adapt to living in a new culture that speaks another language.

As she describes her journey into grad school in the United States, “as a new immigrant, one of the challenges I faced was finding a job related to my field of study and work experience. I also was adjusting to the new culture and feeling the need to improve my ability to communicate in English. So, I thought going back to school would help me meet these needs.”

Seeking a graduate education in the Seattle area, Sardinia spoke with the admissions departments of many universities in Seattle and reports that she was discouraged to apply to the programs that required graduate school applicants to take the GRE exam as part of the application process. However, she learned from a coworker that Antioch University Seattle’s MAEd program does not require GRE scores from applicants. She applied to AUS, was accepted into graduate school, and earned her MA in Education.

Sardinia says, “My time at Antioch has helped me take action in working with students from different backgrounds and cultures.” When exploring the education department, she says “I discovered that the classes were interesting and focused on subject areas in which I wanted to grow.”

She took special education classes, which gave her useful tools and techniques for working with students who benefit from disability accommodations, such as students with learning disabilities. As she explains, the core knowledge classes “gave me greater awareness on cultural diversity, as well as race and equity in education.” She also describes her coursework in leadership and education reform as “eye-opening.”

On the role AUS played in this transition in her life overall, she says “the welcoming atmosphere, student and staff’s diversity, and collaborative experiences I had as I was taking my classes at Antioch have helped me appreciate my own culture as well as many others. I also was encouraged to look deeper into my own identity and speak my truth.”

Her experiences at AUS connected her with her interests, nurtured her curiosity, and helped launch her career at the graduate level in the United States. In turn, she has transformed her own educational journey into one that pays it forward, enriching the lives of students from many backgrounds, including populations that are often underserved in educational institutions.

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