Kathleen Jonathan was born and raised in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Seven years after high school graduation, she made a very difficult decision to leave her extended families, the comfort of her home, and all that she was familiar with to pursue her educational goals abroad. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Natural Science at the University of Hawai’i in Hilo, she and her family moved to Oregon. Shortly after, she landed a job with the Salem-Keizer Public Schools working with English Language Learners (ELLs). Through her network of educators, she was introduced to APANO at a listening circle that focused on ELLs. From that event, she found herself being pulled to the various events of APANO, volunteering whenever she could.
When Kathleen was younger, she and her cousin moved to Oahu to live with their aunt and attended grade school for about a year. Going through the American education system for the first time with very limited English language skills, Kathleen struggled academically and socially. She has never forgotten her experiences and is able to empathize with the ELLs and their families. Her interest in social justice stemmed from those experiences. Through her ten-plus years of experience in working with ELLs, she not only learned from great teachers and other staff members about the American education system and ELLs but also about social justice, equity, and their impact on the achievement gap. Through APANO’s parent classes, Kathleen hopes that parents and families will be more aware of their vital role as parents and be fully engaged in their children’s education.
Kathleen is APANO’s part time Parent Organizer working with Marshallese parents of ELLs in Salem.