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Designing for Equity with Immigrant Students


9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Room: Shaw

Children of immigrants in the United States education system face countless challenges. According to the U.S. Department of Education, graduation rates for English Language Learners are almost 20% below the national average. The International High School at Langley Park (IHSLP) was opened in 2014 to advance efforts in achieving educational equity for English language learners and is supported by a Carnegie Foundation grant and is part of a national network of international schools. Having seen tremendous success and a growing student population in just the last few years, a new home for the school is in the works – a multi-year process and a true journey of collaboration. The result is a safe, calming environment, employing principles of trauma-informed design and a celebration of the unique backgrounds comprising the student population. Sited at the heart of a lively immigrant community in Langley Park, Maryland, the new building is designed to promote social equity within the community and empower every student and faculty member to embrace their heritage and strive to become innovators and pathfinders. Participants will hear steps the project team took during the planning and design of the new IHSLP, and how an empathetic, collaborative process can be applied in their local districts. Founding Principal Carlos will also share his personal involvement in the engagement process and how the ideas and desires of stakeholders took form in the design and will help transform the lives of students who inhabit IHSLP.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the unique challenges that immigrant students face in US schools.
  2. Recognize how critical a school system’s response is to the educational, social, and emotional success of immigrant students.
  3. Discuss how applying the principles of trauma-informed design can contribute to better learning outcomes.
  4. Understand how community engagement can be incorporated into a project to promote social equity.


  • Sarah Woodhead, Principal/K-12 Education Leader, DLR Group
  • Hiwot Haileselassie, Project Manager, Prince George's County Public Schools
  • Carlos Beato, Principal, International High School at Langley Park


March 18-20, 2021   Washington, D.C.

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