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Christine Dahnke

Harvard Doctoral Resident, Orange County Public Schools

Christine Dahnke is currently a doctoral candidate in Education Leadership at Harvard. She brings with her more than a decade of leadership experience in urban school districts and unique expertise in leading change on behalf of English Language Learners (ELLs). Christine grew up in South Florida and learned firsthand the impact of language, culture, experience and opportunity on students in America’s classrooms. After completing her undergraduate studies at American University, she returned to Spain, where she had studied abroad, and taught English as a Foreign Language. It was from this classroom teaching experience and reflection on her own personal journey learning Spanish, that she formalized her career path in the field of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

She has taught middle school ELLs in both the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and the migrant farm worker community in Homestead, Florida. For the past seven years, she has served in various roles at the district level including Instructional Coach and District Supervisor in Miami-Dade Public Schools, and as an Executive Director of ESOL, World Languages and Professional Development in Duval County Public Schools (Jacksonville, Florida). During her years in Duval, Christine worked to expand the district’s dual language program and added both Pre-Kindergarten and Middle School, Spanish-English Two-Way Immersion offerings. She continued to develop the district’s ELL Newcomer Program for refugee and newly arrived immigrants who have limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE), and created a robust monthly calendar of well-attended multilingual parent offerings. Her team coached teachers and administrators across the district’s 180 schools and maintained overall ELL student data measures even with increasingly rigorous state standards. Under her leadership the district ELL graduation rate increased 12 percentage points and NAEP results for Hispanic students surpassed the national and large school district average in most tested areas.  

Christine has served as the Member-at-Large for Sunshine State TESOL, Legislative Liaison for FABES (Florida Association of Bilingual and ESOL Supervisors), and an adjunct professor for the Jacksonville Teacher Residency at the University of North Florida (UNF). Through these posts she was able to increase her impact and advocacy efforts, establish a district Seal of Biliteracy and was recently awarded a U.S. DOE grant to establish an ESOL Paraprofessional to Teacher Pipeline. Christine currently lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband, Onnie, and her son, Theodore (3).

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