Aqoon la’aan wa iftiin la’aan

To be without knowledge is to be without light

Somali Proverb

Education is a basic human right that provides the means through which people can attain their goals and better their livelihoods. It is a seed that can be planted in infancy and flourishes in adulthood, readily easing the path to growth and fostering development.

The classroom is a transformative space and the role of the teacher in a child’s life is incredibly significant. As such, teaching should be culturally relevant and cater to students of diverse abilities and backgrounds. The Somali Literacy Project was born in 2013 out of a desire to deepen my work with the Somali community by making the information gleaned from academia readily accessible to parents and teachers. 

While I was engaged in research at the time, I was very interested in making it practical by providing hands-on workshops in my community. I did so and saw how engaged the mothers were and how eager they were for more information. It propelled me forward.

I continued to write, to present and to critically consider how to better my community. This desire, however, led me to seek out benefitting more communities; specifically, immigrant and refugee communities (as I saw parallels between their experiences). I sought to create resources and materials that would benefit their children’s educational journey. 

Broadly, this initiative will cover the following areas in-depth: education (early childhood, K-12, special & higher), language and literacy, diversity & cultural competence, disability & inclusion, play, identity & belonging, reimagined curricula, social-emotional competence & mental health. 

Join me on a journey of delving into these topics and engaging with them creatively in an effort to better our students’ educational experience. Participate in the community by sharing your insights. Let us grow and learn together on this path to perpetual betterment. 

. . . . .

Naima Shirdon fervently believes in the power of education to positively illuminate and inform the trajectory of one’s life. The foundations of this journey begin in early childhood and develop in subsequent years. Naima’s passion for education was solidified during her time working at the library engaging in kindergarten readiness outreach efforts within low-income communities. Connecting with families in these contexts highlighted the importance of education and the transformative nature of the classroom as well as the significant role of the teacher.

Naima completed her PhD in School Psychology from The Ohio State University. Her dissertation focused on early literacy, repeated shared book reading, preschooler comprehension and social-emotional competence. Her published works have explored early childhood outreach efforts in Somali-American communities, consultation in schools, the dangers of viewing students from a deficit perspective and the reality of stereotype threat in schools.


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