Immigrant Children Negotiate School: The Border in Our Hearts

Immigrant Children Negotiate School: The Border in Our Hearts

Immigrant Children Negotiate School: The Border in Our Hearts

Immigrant Children Negotiate School: The Border in Our Hearts


Donna Vukelich-Selva is Assistant Professor of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, where she also teaches in the Ethnic Studies Program. Before coming to Edgewood, she lived and taught in Nicaragua for more than 15 years. Along with her academic work, she is involved in many community initiatives to support immigrant students and defend public education in Madison.


This book offers a snapshot of the Latino students in one classroom at what I will call Prairie Heights, a high school in the upper Midwest. While Latino students are an ever-more important population in schools across the nation’s heartland, we rarely hear their voices. This is not a scientific study, but rather a series of stories, each important in itself and each critical for educators and others who are committed to their Latino students and who embrace the multilingual, multicultural communities that make schools today truly vibrant and exciting places.

I have tried to honor their voices and place their stories in the larger historical and contemporary context of immigrant students and education, as I worked to understand the crucial ways that race, culture and legal status impact student identity and success.

With much gratitude to the ongoing inspiration provided by so many scholars whose work has influenced me and provided both context and foundation. Michael Apple, Gloria Ladson-Billings and Ben Marquez were all influential in shaping the way I understand education and immigration, and I am grateful for their teaching excellence as well. I have learned much from other scholars, including Angela Valenzuela, Pedro Noguera, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Bekisiswe Ndimande, Maria Elena Ramirez, Adrienne Dixson and Guadalupe Valdes, and thank them for continuing to offer insight and hope.

With much respect to those who continue to fight for just and vibrant public schools for all students in Wisconsin, including Alfonso Zepeda-Capistrán, TJ Mertz, Bob Peterson, Rebecca Kemble, Bert Zipperer, Veronica Castillo, and Elizabeth Miller.

My eternal appreciation to treasured colleagues and friends, with thanks for their perspectives and wisdom: Susan Pastor, Patricia Castañeda-Tucker, Jennifer Hull, Karyn Rotker, Denise Hanson, Jed . . .

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