Jessica Lander at Harvard Book Store


Making Americans:
Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas,
and Inspiration in Immigrant Education

in conversation with PRIYA TAHILIANI



November 14, 2022
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning teacher, writer, and author JESSICA LANDER for a discussion of her new book Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education. She will be joined in conversation by PRIYA TAHILIANI, Superintendent of the Everett Public Schools.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Making Americans

Setting out from her classroom, Jessica Lander takes the reader on a powerful and urgent journey to understand what it takes for immigrant students to become Americans. A compelling read for everyone who cares about America’s future, Making Americans brims with innovative ideas for educators and policy makers across the country.

Lander brings to life the history of America’s efforts to educate immigrants through rich stories, including these:

-The Nebraska teacher arrested for teaching an eleven-year-old boy in German who took his case to the Supreme Court

-The California families who overturned school segregation for Mexican American children

-The Texas families who risked deportation to establish the right for undocumented children to attend public schools

She visits innovative classrooms across the country that work with immigrant-origin students, such as these:

-A school in Georgia for refugee girls who have been kept from school by violence, poverty, and natural disaster

-Five schools in Aurora, Colorado, that came together to collaborate with community groups, businesses, a hospital, and families to support newcomer children.

-A North Carolina school district of more than 100 schools who rethought how they teach their immigrant-origin students

She shares inspiring stories of how seven of her own immigrant students created new homes in America, including the following:

-The boy who escaped Baghdad and found a home in his school’s ROTC program

-The daughter of Cambodian genocide survivors who dreamed of becoming a computer scientist

-The orphaned boy who escaped violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and created a new community here

Making Americans is an exploration of immigrant education across the country told through key historical moments, current experiments to improve immigrant education, and profiles of immigrant students. Making Americans is a remarkable book that will reshape how we all think about nurturing one of America’s greatest assets: the newcomers who enrich this country with their energy, talents, and drive.

Praise for Making Americans

“In this empathetic call for change, high school teacher Lander (Driving Backwards) offers concrete plans for reforming immigrant education in the US . . . Throughout, Lander buttresses her case with stirring profiles of her former students. The result is an inspirational must-read for educators, policymakers, and parents.” —Publishers Weekly

“Weaving together inspiring personal stories, powerful case studies, and a fascinating history of immigrant education in America, Jessica Lander shines a new, hopeful light on a perennial question: How does a young immigrant become an American?” —Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed

“At times moving, instructive, sobering, and encouraging, Making Americans will captivate and enlighten all readers. And it will also equip teachers, voters, and policy makers to work together to overcome prejudice and help newcomers build on their talents to strengthen America while pursuing their own dreams.” —Martha Minow, former dean of Harvard Law School and author of When Should Law Forgive?

Jessica Lander
Jessica Lander

Jessica Lander

Jessica Lander is an award-winning teacher, writer and author. She teaches history and civics to recent immigrant students in a Massachusetts public high school and has won numerous awards for her teaching, including being named a Top 50 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2021, presented by the Varkey Foundation. Jessica writes frequently about education policy and teaching. She is the author of Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education, a coauthor of Powerful Partnerships: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success, and the author of Driving Backwards.

Priya Tahiliani
Priya Tahiliani

Priya Tahiliani

Priya Tahiliani currently serves as Superintendent of the Everett Public Schools. Priya holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science from Boston University, a Masters of Fine Arts from Harvard University, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership. In an effort to continually advocate for and improve the state’s access to high quality equitable instruction and assessment, Priya serves as the President Emeritus on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages and as a member of both the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Standards Setting Committee and the MCAS Bias and Sensitivity Committee.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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