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Mary Mendenhall

School Leadership in Refugee Settings

We developed these multimedia resources as part of a larger initiative to assist school leaders in under-resourced regions by providing unique case study training material via a smartphone-based virtual learning platform. The learning platform–Comparative Education Leadership Lab (CELL)–was initiated by Prof. Cathryn Magno at the University of Fribourg. Prof. Magno is also an alumna of the International & Comparative Education doctoral program. Funding for our collaborative effort was provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation.


The case study that our Teachers College team developed–"School Leaders’ Roles, Responsibilities, and Relationships in Refugee Settings"–introduces participants to school leadership in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement in northwestern Kenya. In this setting, Head Teachers are recruited from the national/host community while Deputy Head Teachers are recruited from the refugee community.


The select multimedia resources presented in this exhibit capture both the “day in a life” of school leaders in this setting, and also give you a sneak peek into the production side of this work. 


We felt that it was important to share the stories, including the challenges and opportunities that school leaders in refugee and displacement settings face in their work as their experiences are often excluded from research studies and other projects that focus on refugee education. More attention is needed to understand the roles and responsibilities of school leaders in these contexts, and the incredible efforts and sacrifices they make to educate refugee learners in resource-constrained environments. 




Emily Ervin (master’s), Jonathan Kwok (master’s), and Danielle Falk (doctoral) were key partners in our efforts to engage school leaders in interviews and WhatsApp exchanges with Head Teachers and Deputy Head Teachers. Our team worked closely with Onono Jimmy Ongwech and Mayen Arok Aguer who provided essential support in Kakuma for coordinating data collection, field-testing, and multimedia development locally. We partnered with Vinia Productions, a refugee-led film production crew also based in the camp, to create the multimedia resources that accompany this case study.

(Click on each image to enlarge and view details.)

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