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Press Play: Dr. Katy Lichon

Audrey Scott on Wednesday, 16 January 2019.

Press Play Alliance for Catholic Education

Welcome to Press Play, ACE’s new segment highlighting the latest and greatest publications coming out of the Institute for Educational Initiatives.

Spoiler Alert: We look forward to sharing a bit about the book and its author – just enough to pique your interest – then we’ll race you to the bookstore.

See you on the last page!

Serving English Language Learners - Alliance for Catholic Education

Guest: Katy Lichon, Ph.D., on behalf of the ENL Team

Publication: Serving English Learners: A Diocesan Handbook for K-12


AS: Congratulations on the new book!

KL: Thank you! It was a collaborative effort between Jenny Dees, Clare Roach, me, and Sedonna Prater.

AS: What is the number one thing you want people to understand about this book?

KL: We hope people understand that the end goal is the success of our children, and we have an opportunity to help these beautiful learners. The reason we wrote the diocesan-wide handbook is that there are some really strong processes and procedures that we can put in place to ensure success. A lot of this is gathering the right information so we can make the most informed decisions, and the handbook is instrumental in helping with that. It comes down to knowing exactly who your children are, what their families are experiencing, and how we can leverage that to serve them best in our Catholic schools and in their faith environment. I’m hopeful people can begin to ask the right questions that can ultimately help children in this critical stage.

AS: You call it a "handbook"... why?

KL: We find that – especially at the diocesan level – it is helpful to have centralized processes, procedures, and protocols. If there’s a common template for a task or topic, we’re more likely to collect the data from it.

One of our other main goals is to have a more centralized conversation. We really want something each diocese can take, copy, and make their own…but on a larger scale we want to know who these children are and how are we serving them in our schools. So, we ask three questions:

  1. How do we identify and define our ELL?
  2. How do we serve them?
  3. How do we welcome and include their families?

It comes down to our core tenets here in ENL to embrace, educate, and empower!

AS: Who is the best target market?

KL: Diocesan leaders, principals, and possibly educators. This book is more aimed at the policymaking level—to help stakeholders begin to ask questions.

AS: But there is actually a series of books—so there’s something for everyone, correct?

KL: Absolutely! The first book is Our Legacy and Our Future: A Framework for Serving English Learners in Catholic Schools. Check it out for useful ideas about accounting for content and language in teaching, developing vocabulary, and helping families to move from invitation to ownership!

Our second book is the handbook – full of policy-level questions and templates to guide decision making.

The third in the series is due out in early spring – Ten Days to Becoming a Better Educator of English Learners. This new book will describe easy-to-follow and impactful classroom-level ideas!

Number four in the series will be a collection of “moments with multicultural saints” that includes a short bio of the saint, prayer, and classroom activities.

AS: What is the most surprising thing you learned when writing this book?

KL: Our team has a dear friend and administrator in the Diocese of Knoxville, Sedonna Prater, the lead author of the book. In working with Sedonna, we were reminded frequently of the realities and limitations – and best intentions – often at play in the busy lives of educators and leaders. The handbook combines theory and higher-level questions with the helpful, boots-on-the-ground suggestions that Sedonna offers at every turn.

AS: What three words would you use to best describe this book?

KL: Helpful. Practical. Hopeful.

Fun Facts

AS: If you could be an Olympic athlete, in what sport would you compete?

KL: Bobsledding.

AS: Roller skates or roller blades?

KL: Roller blades. 

AS: Would you rather live in the Sahara or Antarctica?

KL: We already reside in snowy, South Bend, so bring on the warm Sahara! We might later regret that decision, but at least it does not involve kiddos in snowsuits and finding matching gloves and snow boots! But . . . sunscreen . . .

AS: PB&J, mac-n-cheese or chicken fingers?

KL: Anything we do not have to cook and clean up!

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