The ESL and Multicultural Education program is based on the belief that all teacher educators must be prepared to provide equity and access for all learners at all educational levels, kindergarten through doctoral studies. The preparation of educators to work with students whose first language is not English extends to developing an understanding of and appreciation for the backgrounds students bring to the classroom. In order to accomplish this goal, the underlying philosophy that guides the program is critical pedagogy, which incorporates the questioning of all practices that have an impact on immigrant and refugee students and their families.
Through course readings and service-learning and research experiences in local communities, university students explore the following:
- the relationship of education to power;
- issues of difference and pluralism;
- the meaning of teaching for equity and access for all students;
- the social construction of knowledge;
- dialogic relations in the classroom;
- teaching for social justice; and
- the moral and ethical dimensions of education.
Due to the social justice emphasis of the program and the concentration of English Language Learners (ELLs) in Roanoke City, students are placed in Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS) for both early field studies and student teaching. In addition, students will complete two semesters (20 hours each) of service-learning at the Stonewall Jackson Middle School after-school program in Roanoke City to provide opportunities for getting to know ELLs in RCPS outside the traditional classroom setting.