RBERN West Newsletter

November 2021


Congratulations, Alicia Baez Barinas!

The New York State Education Department, Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (NYSED OBEWL) has appointed Alicia Báez-Barinas as a new Associate. As the Director of Bilingual Education for the Buffalo Public Schools, Alicia arrives at her new position with a wealth of experience to be able to guide school districts in the implementation of instructional programs for English Language Learners with a keen understanding of Commissioners’ Regulations Part 154. Previously, Alicia was a bilingual teacher and administrator in New York City, assistant principal at City Honors School in Buffalo, as well as being NYSABE's (New York State Association for Bilingual Education) most recent past president. Alicia’s office will be in Batavia, New York and represents an opportunity for NYSED OBEWL to have a regional presence. With her experience and advocacy, Alicia is well-poised to serve the multilingual learners of New York State. We wish Alicia all the best as she begins her new leadership role.

HLQ and Parent Bill of Rights

  • Home Language Questionnaire (HLQ) in New Languages: Dari | Pashto

Find these and other resources available on the NYS Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network website.

NYS Seal of Biliteracy Updates

This letter shares important updates about Seal of Biliteracy the 2021-2022 school year.

The Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages has revised and updated the New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) Handbook. This document serves as the foundational authority on all things NYSSB. What’s changed in the latest edition?

  • More than 100 frequently asked questions and answers in about 80 pages (questions from actual schools collected from email submissions, phone conversations, and/or school visitations or workshops);
  • Stock images that illustrate the narratives and give the handbook a more approachable feel; the images were carefully selected to represent the diversity of our student and educator populations and include some actual photos of NYSSB graduates;
  • Updated criteria and assessments based on the March 2021 Board of Regents actions;
  • Updated forms (all of which have been revised and streamlined); and
  • A reference list of assessments by language (instead of by test) so that Seal coordinators can see at-a-glance which exams are available in which languages.

The 2021-22 NYSSB Handbook can be accessed in two ways:

  1. By visiting the general NYSED NYSSB webpage and clicking on the Handbook button; or
  2. By using the following direct link to the NYSSB Handbook.


Our PD calendar, linked above, is updated regularly and has dates throughout the fall. We will alert you when we add new dates and events. We have some placeholders in our calendar so you know what to look forward to in the spring.
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Trauma Systems Therapy for Refugees - Jewish Family Services

Jewish Family Services of Western New York was awarded a $2 million, five-year grant as a part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. The grant came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. JFS provides outreach, therapy and family-based support to more than 2,000 individuals in the Buffalo community. While JFS does support anyone in need, a study indicated that the primary communities of need in the Buffalo area are Bhutanese, Somali, Congolese, Iraqi, Burmese, and Syrian. To reach and support individuals in this community, JFS will use cultural brokers who speak the language and help people with cultural, educational and language barriers. JFS was able to hire one cultural broker, Bijoux Bahati, earlier this year. Bahati works with Congolese youth at Buffalo Public Schools’ Lafayette International High School. “Cultural brokering is a great opportunity to voice concerns about barriers that limit accessing much needed support, raise awareness and encourage seeking services they need in making a successful transition to new life," Bahati said. The grant will fully fund JFS initial budget for the next five years, and will allow for JFS to hire two more cultural brokers and a mental health clinician trained in Trauma Systems Therapy. JFS will partner locally with BestSelf Behavioral Health, International Institute of Buffalo, Lafayette High School, and Journey’s End Refugee Services.

Confronting Discrimination Fact Sheet Available in New Translations

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division jointly issued a new fact sheet that provides information about public schools’ obligation to enroll all children, regardless of national origin or immigration status, and to provide language assistance services to ELs.

Available in the following languages:

Chinese (Simplified) · Chinese (Traditional) · Arabic · Vietnamese · Somali · Haitian Creole · Dari · Pashto

BPS Data Request Form

Buffalo Public Schools updated their request for data as of September 2021. After completing the attached document below, please RENAME and SAVE this form in the following format before submission: Your last name-your organization-submission date (example: Smith-KenTon-9.20.21)

Email the form, along with any template you have, to


I'm Your Neighbor Books

I’m Your Neighbor Books strives to build a stronger America, one where immigrants are welcomed and where first, second, and third generation Americans truly belong.

This work is done by facilitating deep engagement with the children’s books that represent our New Arrival and New American communities. By curating, loaning, and gifting these diverse titles with educational materials, the nonprofit:

  • Starts conversations on modern immigration,
  • Refutes false narratives about communities of color,
  • Creates emotional connections to a vast diversity of voices,
  • Builds the cultural competency of all readers and
  • Lays the groundwork for cross-cultural communication.

These webinettes have been developed as examples of how short video presentations can be used to introduce academic language to English language learners and/or multilingual learners. They were created by content area specialists in Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES. Topics were selected by reviewing performance data with ELLs, and determining high-leverage concepts to help move ELLs forward in understanding. While the concepts were chosen from performance on the NYS Regents exams, these webinettes can be used with students across grade levels.

Most of the videos are currently available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish across the following content areas: Math | Science | ELA | Social Studies

English-Tigrinya Word for Word Glossary

English Tigrinya Word for Word Glossary:

This comprehensive bilingual student dictionary includes over 25,000 word-to-word dictionary entries and is perfect for ESL/ELL students to use for standardized testing.

Pre-order for April 2022.

Some Latinos face community criticism over Spanish skills

ABC News’ Stephanie Ramos speaks with dual-language expert Dr. Jose Medina about destigmatizing Spanglish and the challenges some Latino children face for being unable to speak fluent Spanish.
Some Latinos face community criticism over Spanish skills

Adult ESL Classes Locations in WNY

Kaela Jacobs from CA BOCES shared that there are Adult ESL classes available in the Southern Tier at the Olean Public Library as well as various sites for adult ESL tutoring hosted by Core2Learn.

Thank you to the ENL Department from Williamsville CSD for putting together this thorough reference list of Adult ESL programs in Erie County. It can be found in the attached document below.

Parks Launches Ladders to the Outdoors Program for Western New York Youth

State Parks has started free recreational programs at State Parks in Niagara and Erie counties for underserved youths. Funded through a $860,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to the Natural Heritage Trust, the three-year Ladders to the Outdoors program will provide access to outdoor recreational spaces, equipment, transportation, and skills development in underserved communities. Programs include guided hikes, fishing, biking, kayaking, swimming, and sports activities. The grant will also pay for equipment including bikes, kayaks, fishing gear and sports gear for community use, rehabilitation of athletic fields, and accessible play equipment at several state park playgrounds. Transportation to parks is supported through a partnership with the New York State Connect Kids to Parks program. Press Release

Co-Planning: Five Essential Practices to Integrate Curriculum and Instruction for English Learners

Bestselling authors Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria G. Dove have returned with this new resource that complements and expands on their previous titles on co-teaching and collaboration by addressing collaborative planning in greater depth. It was illustrated by our very own Resource Specialist, Claribel Gonzalez!

Key features include:

• Practical, step-by-step guidance to starting and sustaining collaborative planning for integrated language, literacy, and social-emotional development
• An array of checklists, templates, and protocols for immediate implementation
Snapshots from the Field provide real-life examples of co-planning in action
• Beautiful full-color design with original sketch notes to bring concepts to life
• QR codes that link to author interviews elaborating on key ideas

Community Spotlight

Kelly Cooper, Lafayette International Community High School

This past spring and summer Kelly Cooper, ENL Teacher at Lafayette International Community High School, helped coordinate and arrange school for students in Myanmar/Burma during the months of July & August. These were students who were boycotting their own government that met weekly online taking a variety of classes. Kelly worked at finding teachers to teach a number of subjects including physics on Zoom! She made the schedule, found a zoom account we all used, found substitutes, etc. She was an administrator for this school just trying to help people in a country she loves. I felt it was important to make sure others knew about her selfless and tireless actions.

Submitted by: Amy Proctor, Depew Schools

Anne Henry assumes new leadership position

Congratulations to Anne Henry on her appointment as the Director of Leadership, Professional Learning, and Diversity at Erie 2 Chautauqua Cattaraugus BOCES. Anne is well-known both locally and statewide for her leadership in the education of English Language Learners. She has the distinction of having served as both President of NYSABE and NYS TESOL. To have led two major New York State professional education organizations is an extraordinary accomplishment. Among Anne’s many achievements is having served as Director of the RBERN West. Her most recent position was Director of Registration and Placement in the Buffalo Public Schools in support of 33,000 students. Anne is an American Dream story. She fled Vietnam as a very young child with her family eventually immigrating to the United States. She began her very first school experience at the age of eleven and knows first-hand the challenges faced by our ELL students. Anne’s personal history is one of triumph over difficulty. She is well-equipped for the work ahead and we are excited to see all Anne will accomplish for the students in her care.

Want to share the story of an unsung hero?

Email us your story and submit a picture so we can honor the contributions of our dedicated WNY educators, administrators, and community members in our monthly newsletter. Send all submissions to Mike Duffy at mjduffy@e1b.org

About Us

The Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network West is part of a statewide system of support, funded by the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBE-WL).

Mission: Collaborate with educators, parents, and community members to promote academic excellence and ensure high school graduation for all multilingual learners.

Vision: A community that provides access to an excellent and equitable education for multilingual learners that prepares them to be prosperous participants of a free and democratic society.