Fall 2018


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Patty Born Selly, Maggie Struck

Content Expert

Kelly Freeburg


Immigrants and children of immigrants have been a part of this country’s history for centuries. The number of immigrants entering the United States is increasing, and many of these immigrants have or will experience trauma. Traumatic events can have detrimental effects on the brains and behaviors of children, making school particularly difficult for these students. Educators may not know how to help these students recover and heal. This capstone examines strategies that teachers can use to meet the social emotional needs of recently arrived elementary-aged Latino and Somali English learners (RAELs) who have experienced trauma. It provides information regarding who RAELs are, what types of trauma they may experience, their social emotional needs, the impact trauma can have on their behavior and brains, and strategies educators can use and teach to RAELs. The theory this research primarily draws from is the theory of self-determination. This theory states that in order for people to feel successful in their lives people need to feel that they have control in their lives, and they need to feel competent. Given the lack of control and feelings of incompetence RAELs feel on a daily basis, it is no surprise that RAELs may struggle to heal from their trauma. It is only when RAELs begin their healing process that they can experience success social emotionally, linguistically, and academically. I used this information to create a professional development presentation. I presented my work to my coworkers, and will share this information with other members of my educational community, as well.

Project Type

Professional Development


At-risk Students, ESL/ ELLs, Trauma








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