In 2009, Leila Kubesch began to visit the homes of her non- and limited-English speaking students to welcome them to their new school and community and let them know that she serves as a resource. On this journey she discovered that many families faced grave hardships due to cultural, social and linguistic barriers.
As she began to work with families closely she discovered other challenges and patterns that impacted them. In addition to lacking cultural understanding, they were also misunderstood. For example, while interpreting at many districts she discovered that African newcomers were mistakingly thought to be students who couldn’t comprehend directions. A combination of language and cultural barriers led these students to be deemed as "behind their regular peers" by school staff and incorrectly placed in Special Education programs, meaning these students were also often removed from much needed Limited English Proficiency support. In other instances, some children were denied school enrollment until parents could possess a lease in their names or other barriers that led to students missing school.
In 2013 she founded Parents 2 Partners(.org) as a nonprofit corporation under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3).
What We Do:
- We offer Parent Academies in a language understood by participants and empower parents to set high aspirations for themselves and their children. Training addresses cultural challenges, connects families with community resources, and guides them in becoming an integral part of their child’s academic success — including by becoming more involved in their child's school.
- We provide guidance and training to school staff on family outreach, community engagement, and cultural responsiveness to create partnerships between diverse parents and educators to increase academic achievement, social equity, and the overall best interest of students.
- We collaborate with educators from across the state of Ohio to develop and maintain updated resources for families, students, and educators.
Our team is comprised of professional volunteers. We aspire to promote a greater cultural understanding and educational support for families, educators and students in order to achieve better learning outcomes and greater success.
Newest Board Member:
Brian Wagner is the founder and CEO of "A Radical Vision." His mission is to help people embrace their own abilities and become empowered to achieve a greater vision for their lives.
Brian was born and raised in Northwest Ohio as the son of a tomato farmer and the youngest of 10 kids. At the age of 10, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a brain malformation. Over the course of the next 33 years he experienced several medical issues resulting from this diagnosis and in March 2011 he woke up blind. Through brain and multiple eye surgeries, he was able to regain a portion of his vision. Since then, Brian wrote a book titled "Sometimes It DOES Take a Brain Surgeon".
Brian was enlisted to serve on the board for his commitment to empowering others and his volunteer efforts with youth. He donated his time and helped sponsor dinner for a family event hosted by Norwood Middle School. The children fell in love with him and so did we.
Resource Committee Members:
Leila Kubesch teaches Spanish and English to speakers of other languages at Norwood City Schools. She is passionate about equity and social justice. She served as an advocate for emancipated foster youth in Ohio by raising awareness of the plight of these youth, presenting to large audiences including TEDx Cincinnati, where she won the Audience Choice Award for her talk. She spoke with politicians and dedicated her effort until House Bill 50 passed, enabling foster youth in Ohio to have homes until age 21. She is the 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year, 2020 National Toyota Family Teacher of the Year, and 2021 Horace Mann Awardee.
Donna Villareal works at the Ohio Department of Education as a program specialist in the Office of Integrated Student Supports. She completed a masters in Multicultural Education at Akron University in 1989 and worked in the Lau Resource Center. She has taught TESOL in adult basic literacy, vocational, and special education settings K-12. She served as assistant professor of Special Education at Ashland University from 2008-2014. In 2015, she completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (200 RYT) with Esther Ekhart and returned to work as a program specialist at the Lau Resource Center, where she continues to promote consistent supports for English learners and multilingual families.
Jamal Sulaiman is the curriculum and instruction specialist of non-public school services for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. He supports non-public school principals and teachers to identify and meet the needs of English learner students. Jamal has expertise in language learning and assessment having worked at the Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy in Cleveland. He is a committed educational leader who advocates for equitable policies for immigrant families and English Learners.
Joseph (JD) Emnett is a curriculum supervisor at the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, where he consults with high schools, conducts teacher evaluations, provides training in social emotional learning, and is the ESL coordinator. As a member of the Ohio English Learner Advisory Committee, he works to solve challenges faced by rural Ohio school districts by building capacity and increasing access to needed ESL resources. He advocates for English learners and their families by providing training for rural school and ESCs so they are better prepared to welcome and instruct English learners in their communities.
Rumeysa Sarikamis works as an ESL Coordinator at Horizon Science Academy Columbus High School, teaches ESL. and serves on the ODE ESL Advisory Committee. She worked and lived in different countries including Russia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia and Iraq and completed her studies in Russia, receiving her Bachelor's and a Master Degree in Teaching Foreign Languages and Linguistics. She has been teaching students of all ages and holds many roles like offering seminars for ESL parents. She actively uses social media as an outreach method to the non-English speaking community.