Laurie Wyatt SEP Learning Supports Coordinator Receives Dan Chavez Beyond the Horizon Individual Advocate Award 

Laurie Wyatt, PK-12 Learning Supports Coordinator at Southeast Polk was awarded the Dan Chavez Beyond the Horizon Individual Advocate Award at the Iowa Culture and Language Conference in Coralville. This annual award is given to a person who has demonstrated extraordinary effort on behalf of the immigrant, refugee, and non-English speaking populations of Iowa.

Laurie works tirelessly to support non-English speaking students and families as well as the teacher teams that work with these students. Below are just some of the initiatives she has led at Southeast Polk.

  • When faced with disproportionality of ELs in the talented and gifted program, she identified giftedness tests so ELs at all proficiency levels could be considered for gifted programming. She was able to place a Newcomer who would not have been previously identified based on standardized tests.  For the first time, because of Laurie, ELs could demonstrate their giftedness, regardless of language levels.   
  • She established an EL Task Force at the middle school level in response to data which revealed ELs had a dip in achievement at the middle school level.  For her Task Force, she included the school board, instructional coaches, ESOL staff, administrators, and other specialists. The team observed ELs were not engaged in the classroom. As a result, teachers of Social Studies, Science, Math, and English Language Arts focused on EL strategies such as sentence stems, a focus on academic vocabulary, and structured small and partner group work to increase engagement and language proficiency.  In the end, ELs out-achieved non-Els. 
  • When she realized that families needed support with using technology to register, she advocated for EL Registration Night. This allowed families to receive the technology support they needed for the online registration system. While there, she also provided information so families could have access to pre-school.
  • Laurie’s other initiatives have included teaching English Language Proficiency Standards workshops to every school in Southeast Polk to help general education staff improve instruction and assessment for the ELs they serve. Most recently, she is a part of a team developing a standards-based report card for ELs.

Congratulations to Laurie Wyatt on receiving this well-deserved honor.  Your work to support English learners and their families is very much appreciated!