Creating School Communities That Promote Learning Growth and Social Connection for Adopted Students

Event Information

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
All Belong Center for Inclusive Education

Creating School Communities That Promote Learning Growth and Social Connection for Adopted Students

Date/Time: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 1 – 3 pm EST

Audience: ESS teachers, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, and counselors

Facilitators: –

Dr. Emily Helder: Dr. Emily Helder is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist, adoption researcher, and professor at Calvin University. She is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Adoption and host of the Adoption Roundtable podcast, which brings together adoption researchers and practitioners to discuss the latest in adoption policy and practice in an accessible way.

Jackie Frens: K4 Tech Integration Specialist and GROW Program Instructor, Ada Christian School (6 years) Prior to her current role at Ada Christian School, Jackie taught 5th grade (Paterson, NJ), 2nd and 3rd grades (Zeeland Public Schools) and middle school technology and English literature (Jakarta, Indonesia). In her teaching experiences in West Michigan, as a Korean American, she has been one of the only teachers of color on staff. As a Christian school teacher, Jackie’s interactions with children of color have included a majority of transracially adopted students. Growing up, Jackie attended Christian schools starting in first grade and did not have a teacher of color or a teacher who identified as having been adopted. As an adult, she is continuously learning and unlearning the role that her racial identity and adoption experience has to offer my students, both adopted and not adopted. As she gains more of a voice, Jackie accepted the invitation to share this journey with fellow educators, in the hopes of being a good ancestor.

Kristin Groom: 6th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies/Bible Teacher, Grand Rapids Christian Middle School Kristin has taught in an array of classroom and school settings, including teaching in self-contained classrooms for first through third grades and teaching language arts, social studies, and Bible for fourth through sixth grades. She has taught in Christian schools in Okemos, MI; Chicago, IL; and Grand Rapids. Kristin is passionate about teaching because of the opportunities she is given to work with children. She loves being able to help her students discover their gifts and use those gifts to be successful in their own beautiful ways. Growing up, Kristin attended Christian schools and was the only African American adoptee in her school system. There were many challenges and periods of isolation as she tried to find her identity and figure out where she fit in. Kristin sees many of her students who are adopted struggling with these same issues. They are often misunderstood and reluctant to be the child God has created them to be. It is Kristin’s hope that her understanding as an adoptee, as well as her experiences working with students of all backgrounds, will benefit other educators as they strive to meet the individual needs of their students.

Format: In Person and Virtual



Every child comes into the classroom with their own learning package, which is influenced by a number of factors, both past and present. School personnel seeking to support the cognitive and social growth of adopted students, in particular, may need additional tools to increase their adoption competence.

A series of presentations followed by a panel discussion will address (1) the relative role of pre- and postadoptive experiences in creating an individual student’s learning package, (2) the role that adoptive and racial/ethnic identity development can play in a student’s learning and relationships, and (3) suggestions for educators about the role they can have in supporting healthy identity and faith development among adopted students and providing opportunities to celebrate the diversity of family types for all students.


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Creating School Communities PD, 4/27/22, In Person
Creating School Communities PD, 4/27/22, Virtual



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