Exploring school principals' responses to the needs of Somali immigrant students

Shukri Nur, Mohamed Nur-Awaleh


This paper explored school principals’ responses in addressing the perceived educational needs of Somali immigrant/refugee students; and explored how school principals might seek to create culturally responsive and inclusive schools that build a partnership with Somali families. This qualitative exploratory study combined aspects of convenience and purposeful sampling to learn about how the school principals addressed the needs of the Somali immigrant students; and the extent to which they sought to create inclusive schools and build partnerships with the Somali families. We conducted interviews with a total of three school principals in three different schools who served these students and their families. This study shows that in the initial contact with Somali students, the school principals had very little awareness and experience in dealing with Somali refugee and immigrant students who continue to face challenges in adjusting into their schools. To address the educational needs of Somali students requires an approach that transcends the provision of ESL classes. It also requires a transformative leadership approach that advocates for the needs of both the students and the parents and seeks to establish multicultural and mentoring  programs which could play a role in better meeting the educational needs of all students.

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