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Continuing the promise: Recruiting and preparing Hmong-American educators for Central Wisconsin

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Author(s): Leslie McClain-Ruelle | Kao Xiong

Journal: Hmong Studies Journal
ISSN 1091-1774

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Hmong Americans | Asian American Studies

ABSTRACT
The state of Wisconsin, and in the broader context, the middle states of the United States experienced a large influx of Hmong families starting in the early 1980’s and into the 1990’s. With this influx a large number of young, Southeast Asian children entered the PK-12 classrooms, often with the support of bilingual aides. While many of the children flourished within this newer context, they were mostly guided in their classrooms by white, Anglo educators. Although theseeducators work to meet the needs of all children, there were few to no Hmong educators working with these same children in the PK-12 setting. At the same time, a number of Hmong young adults were serving as bilingual aides in these classrooms. Project Forward, a federally funded Title VII grant, has worked to create a shift in these roles, preparing Hmong college students to become educators in the PK-12 settings. In 1999, Central Wisconsin enrolled approximately3,200 Hmong children in the PK-12 schools; at the same time, Central Wisconsin employed merely seven Hmong teachers in the classrooms. The goal of the grant program described in this paper is to prepare teachers of Southeast Asian background for early childhood, elementary, secondary and K-12 classrooms. The Central Wisconsin grant has supported a total of 35 Southeast Asian students in their pursuit of teaching careers. Fulfilling the goal of preparingteachers who can serve as role models for Southeast Asian children in our schools has met with successes and struggles. This article presents consideration of the central factors affectingrecruitment, retention and preparation of Hmong pre-service teachers in Central Wisconsin. The article includes a brief historical examination of the immigration of the Hmong population intothe United States, a consideration of the Hmong culture as it affects recruitment and retention of pre-service teachers and evidence related to successes and struggles experienced by ProjectForward students in the teacher preparation programs at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

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