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Abeni Jackson-Johnson

Co-Founder

Abeni Johnson is a dedicated and passionate educator from Flint, Michigan, with a rich background in early childhood and special education. Her partner Chibuzor from Nigeria and youngest son are currently residing in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. He is a rising 11th grader at the International Community School of Abidjan (ICSA) in Côte d'Ivoire, and her oldest child is a rising 12th grader at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. Abeni currently serves as an early years teacher at ICSA and will transition to the role of Early Intervention Learning Support Teacher for the Early Childhood Center next school year. She has also held the position of department head for early childhood and served on the Director’s Counsel at ICSA.

About Abeni

Abeni brings over a decade of experience in early childhood education, including four years in special education in Arlington, Virginia. She initially joined ICSA as a Pre-K teacher from 2014 to 2017, serving as Department Head for Early Childhood from 2016 to 2017. During this time, she co-presented at the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA) Peer Workshop in Cape Town on "Learning Through Play: Making Play Intentional" and co-authored an article titled "Making Play Intentional" in the AISA Connexions Journal. In 2017, Abeni returned to Arlington to pursue a Master’s in Special Education to better support her son, diagnosed with dyslexia. She worked as a substitute teacher supporting students with special needs during her studies and, after completing her degree, taught in the Arlington School District for three years. She returned to ICSA in 2021 as a Special Education Consultant and Early Years teacher, well-versed in inquiry-based practices designed by the Common Ground Collaborative (CGC).

Educational Background

Abeni holds a Master’s in Special Education with an International Special Education/ESOL Graduate Certification from George Mason University. She has extensive experience implementing evidence-based practices to individualize learning plans for students with learning disabilities. Her expertise spans self-contained classrooms and general education settings, where she uses a variety of teaching modalities to help students achieve their learning goals. She is passionate about co-teaching with colleagues and planning impactful lessons for belonging and inclusion.

Innovative Projects and Training

During the pandemic, Abeni co-authored a chapter book with her son called *The Johnson’s Adventures in Côte d’Ivoire*, utilizing assistive technology to help him overcome dyslexia. This project, inspired by an assistive technology course, leveraged the Natural Writer program's speech-to-text feature, resulting in a 50-page book based on her son's experiences living abroad. This project significantly improved his reading fluency and sparked his interest in reading. Abeni has been trained in a Dyslexia Awareness program through the Virginia Department of Education and in Phono-Graphix methods for teaching phonemic awareness. She has successfully implemented these strategies and assistive technologies to support her students' reading and writing goals.

Leadership and Collaboration

Abeni has led the Multi-Intervention Program for students with Autism (MIPA) at Oakridge Elementary School in Arlington. Her commitment to establishing positive, transparent relationships with students, peers, and families has been instrumental in fostering student achievement and enhancing school community morale. She collaborates closely with colleagues to devise individualized educational programs (IEP) that set students up for success. Abeni serves on the Wellness Committee, chairs The Africa Week Committee, and acts as the DEIJ liaison to the US Embassy for collaborative activities at ICSA. She is a proud member of the AISA Affinity Group, AIELOC-Africa Affinity Space, and SENIA.

Community Engagement

As a co-founder of the Sierra Cares Foundation in Makeni, Sierra Leone, Abeni supports over 200 orphans affected by the Ebola epidemic and empowers survivors of human trafficking. ICSA has collaborated with the foundation through service-learning activities for three years. Abeni has also coordinated service-learning projects with local schools in Abidjan, fostering authentic connections and enriching her students' educational experiences. Abeni Johnson's work embodies the strategic priorities of ICSA, and she takes great joy and honor in facilitating and coordinating learning activities that make a meaningful impact on her students and the broader community.

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