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Demetra Stavrianidis

Teacher Bio
Demetra Stavrianidis is an ELL/TEACHBoston Teacher at West Roxbury High School, a Massachusetts Service Learning Leader school. Having taught in both American and Greek schools, she enjoys her ELL students. She was one herself when she came to the United States more than three decades ago. Demetra is a recipient of numerous awards including the Golden Apple Award. Her goal is not only to aid immigrant students to become proficient in English, but to make their adjustment to their new country as smooth as possible. That's why she is involved in many after school programs that help immigrant students succeed in their new environment.

Subject Areas
English Language Arts, Technology, Career Education

Grade Levels
9 - 12

High School English Language Learners mentor Elementary Grade 5 English Language Learners



Women Immigrants in the Promised Land


Key Question How can stories about immigrant women's experiences in the United States help newly arrived students adjust to a new environment and realize their own educational and career goals?

Overview Combining communication skills with TEACHBoston projects, English Language Learners (ELL) visit the Boston Women's Memorial (BWM). This leads to research for a timeline on Women's Rights. Students read The Promised Land that chronicles a young Russian girl's "coming to America." They learn about Saturday Evening Girls an early twentieth century support club for young Italian and Jewish women in Boston's North End. Interviews with family members and leaders from their own communities help them understand how successful mentorship opens doors to educational and career opportunities. Comparing current women's rights in the United States with those in their countries of origin, students keep journals and design Venn Diagrams. At the school's Service Learning Festival, these role models show and tell younger peers how women immigrants can call their adopted country the "Promised Land."

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Visit BWM & take the Ladies Walk.
Research & create timeline of women rights in U.S.
Begin reflection journals on immigrant women.
Conduct Internet research on Mary Antin & read on-line excerpts from "The Promised Land."
Read about Paul Revere Pottery & Saturday Evening Girls.
Develop women's rights questionnaire for interviews with family members.
Create a Venn Diagram comparing women's rights in country of origin & U.S.
Write essays on immigrant women then & now.
Plan Learning Festival.
Interview family members on women's rights in their former countries.
Transcribe interview responses.
Present Women's Rights timeline & interview responses to U.S. History class.
Organize & hold panel discussion on women's past accomplishments, present status & future goals.
Identify age appropriate material on Mary Antin & Saturday Evening Girls for Learning Festival visitors.
Share products & stories with visiting teachers & younger peers at Learning Festival during Women's History Month.
Invite immigrant community leader to classroom discussion on women & opportunities in her country of origin.
Interview ESL teacher & her mother on women's rights.
Share personal stories of successful mentoring.
Exchange tips on how to identify reliable mentoring organizations for young women.
Research scholarship opportunities for female immigrant high school graduates.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts
Understand and effectively employ structures of written language.
Understand the structure of words and demonstrate a strong vocabulary.
Employ effective research and study skills.
Employ various formats and technologies to complete and enhance work.
Engage in effective discussions.
Make effective presentations.
Use focused, coherent, and well organized writing.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication and Literacy Skills.
Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


Students use essays Checklist generated from Project Based Learning; peer review groups provide feedback on Venn Diagrams: teacher and students evaluate questionnaire; students share excerpted journal reflections with peers and visitors to Learning Festival.

Software or Materials Used For technology: printer, digital camera, scanner, Microsoft Office; for interview and reflections: journals and notebooks; for background material: Resource List on Immigrants in The Promised Land.

Teacher Developed Materials Checklists for Essays, Resource List on Immigrant Women in The Promised Land.

Student Developed Materials Women's Rights Timeline, Reflection Journals, Questionnaire, Venn Diagrams, Essays

Web Sites Resource List on Immigrant Women in The Promised Land

Final Words Many of our immigrant female students initially view United States as the "Promised Land" or the land of opportunity. But then reality sets in. Not only do they often face family stereotypes of women's place in society, but they also deal with hurtful labels. This project shows new immigrant women how their foremothers have succeeded. It boosts their self-esteem, and encourages them to value education and mentoring programs.

Teacher Tip Watch for students to develop confidence and take ownership of this project when they help younger peers learn about women's rights, Local success stories enable TEACHBoston students to visualize their own potential.

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