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World Languages

Starting a NYS Seal of Biliteracy Program at Your Charter School

Presenters:  Candace Black & Melissa Melkonian

Date & Time:  Tuesday, May 28th, 2024, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

1 hour of CTLE credit offered.

Webinar description:   Have you been thinking about exploring the idea of starting a NYS Seal of Biliteracy program at your charter school?  This program has experienced tremendous growth since it was first offered in 2015-16.  In 2023-24, more than 550 NYS high schools (including 17 charter schools) are offering the Seal to their students.  This session will review what the Seal of Biliteracy is, who can earn this distinction, what benefits it brings to students, educators, and schools, as well as what it takes to start a Seal of Biliteracy program.  Co-presented by the founder and head of the American Dream Charter School, this webinar will address the specific needs of charter schools as they start to plan for a Seal program.  A wealth of digital resources will be provided, and time will be allotted during the session for questions from participants.  Come and learn about how you can honor your English Language Learners (ELLs), your World Language students, and your Heritage Language Speakers who are developing the 21st century skill of biliteracy.

Link to webinar flyer

Registration process:  All participants are encouraged to pre-register for this event.  Pre-registration will close approximately 24 hours prior to the event; there will be no same-day registrations.  Once the registrant's email address has been verified as being from a New York State educational institution, an email confirming their registration will be sent.  Twenty-four hours prior to the event, all registered individuals will receive login instructions with the link to join the webinar.  Only pre-registered attendees will be eligible for a certificate documenting attendance and/or CTLE hours. 

Link to registration form

Workshop presenters:

Candace Black is the World Languages Associate in the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages at the New York State Education Department.  She is currently leading the implementation of the revised NYS World Languages Standards and oversees the NYS Seal of Biliteracy program.  Candace graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in French from SUNY Potsdam and earned both her M.B.A., and M.A.T. from the University of Rochester. A National Board-Certified Teacher, Candace taught French for 21 years and served as an IB Diploma Coordinator. In 2021, she was the recipient of the President’s Award for both NYSAFLT and NYSAWLA and was elected as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques by the French government.  In all her roles, most especially her current one, Candace is deeply committed to the professional learning and support of World Language teachers and the promotion of the NYS Seal of Biliteracy. 


Melissa Melkonian has been a New York City educator for over 20 years. She began her career as a bilingual special education teacher in Washington Heights/Inwood with the New York City Public Schools (NYCPS), where she taught students in grades 5-8 in both English and Spanish.  Melissa then joined a charter school in the Bronx where she continued to teach before becoming the middle school's assistant principal. Melissa founded and is now the Head of the American Dream Charter School in 2014, a dual-language school in the South Bronx.  Melissa earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Policy from Trinity College, a Master's in Bilingual and Special Education from Mercy College, and an Ed.M. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.