Ph.D. student Amy Lerner describes project to help refugee students

Photo of Amy Lerner

Amy Lerner


In this Spotlight interview, Amy Lerner, a Ph.D. student in the Early Childhood, Intervention and Literacy program, describes her research project aimed at helping teachers learn what they need to know to help refugee students, primarily those from Burma.

During the past summer, Lerner developed and published the guide called “Educating the Refugee Child: A Resource Guide for Teachers.” ┬áPrinted copies were distributed to several elementary schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district in time for the start of classes this fall. The Chapel Hill area has a significant population of Burmese refugees, with approximately 200 refugee students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system.

Development of the handbook was part of Lerner’s community engagement fellowship from the Carolina Center for Public Service. The Center for Public service also has made the handbook available on its website. The guide may be found at the bottom of this page after the description of the project.

Before coming to UNC, Lerner earned her master’s degree in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and spent two-years conducting research at the New York University Child Study Center.

Since coming to Carolina, she has been the recipient of a Research Triangle Schools Partnership doctoral student seed grant, a Community Engagement Fellowship from the Carolina Center for Public Service, and a Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund grant from The Reed Foundation. As part of these projects, Lerner is conducting research aimed at understanding the challenges and opportunities for successfully integrating refugee children into school communities, and increasing their academic potential.

Lerner is spending the Fall 2012 semester in the District of Columbia, conducting research for her Reed Foundation grant project.

More about Lerner’s project
In this profile, LEARN NC’s blog “The Well” talked with Lerner about her work.