CUNY-NYSIEB Ambassador: Charene Chapman-Santiago

(General Education 8th Grade English Language Arts Teacher)

Meet Charene….

Mrs. Charene Chapman-Santiago is an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at MS 352 – Ebbets’ Field Middle School in Brooklyn. She was recently recognized for her excellence in teaching by the Brooklyn Nets basketball team.

She has a BA from New York University in Journalism and Media. Before becoming a teacher, she was an assistant to Russell Simmons in his head company, RUSH Communications, a photojournalist, and a documentary filmmaker. A former New York City Teaching Fellow, Charene earned her first Master’s degree from Pace University, and a second in Educational Administration and Supervision from the College of St. Rose. She is an adjunct professor at City College.

Since beginning her career as an educator, Charene has been a Literacy Coach and English Department Chair, and a PCT (Peer Collaborative Teacher). She was a member of The White House initiative, Turnaround Arts, for which she directed and produced various plays and Black and Latino History performances. She also started a girls mentoring program called Ladies in Training. Charene is married to Edwin Santiago and has two daughters, Lilyana and Isabella.

A leader at her school in the education of bilingual students at her school, she presented at the annual meeting of the New York State Association of Bilingual Education in 2014 and in 2017. She also co-wrote a chapter of the book Translanguaging with Multilingual Students: Learning from Classroom Moments edited by Ofelia Garcia and Tatyana Kleyn. Charene hopes to enroll in a PH.D program to further her studies in the disproportionality of black and Latino boys in school discipline systems.

Take a Peek in Charene’s Classroom

Fast Facts

  • Type of Classroom: 8th grade general education English Language Arts
  • Languages spoken: Arabic, Haitian Creole, Spanish, varieties of Fulani
  • Model: Push-in English as a New Language support
  • Flexible language use: Students are encouraged to use their full linguistic repertoires to learn all content areas.

Charene On Getting to Know Her Students

In this video from the CUNY-NYSIEB series, Teaching Bilinguals (Even if You’re Not One), Charene explains how she gets to know her students — despite not always sharing their language backgrounds.

See a Unit In Action

Charene, in collaboration with Ivana Espinet of CUNY-NYSIEB designed a unit project to leverage students’ multilingualism as a resource to support exploration of their complex, diverse identities. The video presentation to the right features examples of student work from this project, in addition to the driving philosophy behind it.


  • Students had read the book Inside Out and Back Again. Written in verse, this story tells the story of Hà’s, a young girl who fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon and immigrated to Alabama.
  • Many of the students in the class shared experiences about being ethnically or racially profiled. This inspired a video project about how others see them and who they really are.
  • The book was a springboard to make connections with the Syrian refugee crises and the current political discourse about refugees


  • Students responded to the prompt “How do others see me?” on a class-produced graffiti wall on poster paper in the hallway of the school.
  • They used whatever language they were comfortable with, including drawings, to express themselves.
  • After reviewing the graffiti wall, each student wrote a short response about how others see them and who they really are.

Culminating Project:

  • Students used multilingual sentence starters to write a script for their videos.
  • Students used their writing to create a storyboard for a multilingual video.
  • Students worked in partners to record and edit their videos using iPads.
  • When they were finished, there was a screening where students showcased their work and provided feedback to others.
  • Charene presented students’ videos at a professional development session for teachers at her school to reflect upon students comments about the gap between how others perceive them, and how they really are.