Overview of SEAL

SEAL (Sobrato Early Academic Language) is a powerful English Learner-focused approach to education rooted at the intersection of research and educational equity. The bedrock values are a commitment to further developing the intellectual and linguistic genius of young children’s brains, honoring the value and role of a family’s culture and language in students’ lives, and helping teachers cultivate the skills and mindset they need to become powerfully effective educators.

The Sobrato Family Foundation invested in the design and pilot of the SEAL model, which was led by Dr. Laurie Olsen. A 5-year evaluation of SEAL found that despite starting school with language and academic skills behind their peers, SEAL students catch up or surpass peers on all measures, from language and literacy to math and science. Major findings show statistically significant gains in language, literacy and cognition, as well as a significant impact on family literacy.

SEAL already partners with educational leaders across California, in over 100 elementary schools across 21 districts, and in over 130 preschool classrooms within 24 preschool local education agencies, working to transform the system by providing professional development, curriculum support, and technical assistance for educators. SEAL is helping English Learners turn their home language into an asset.

SEAL provides a clear pathway for California to meet the vision set out by the comprehensive English Learner Roadmap policy. With 10 years of practice and research that demonstrates an effective model, SEAL fosters systems change in two ways: by continuing to transform more classrooms, schools, and districts, and by advocating for state level changes that focus on English Learners’ needs.

SEAL addresses English Learner needs at all levels — practice, research, policy and advocacy — to create long-term systemic changes.

PRACTICE

We partner with schools over multiple years to train teachers in research-based pedagogy, spark cross-school collaboration, and build internal coaching and leadership capacity to support English Learners.

RESEARCH

We conduct research in classrooms, pilot new approaches, and publish insights to advance the field’s understanding of what works for English Learners.

POLICY & ADVOCACY

We engage with district leaders and organize stakeholders to design and advocate for policies that centralize the needs of English Learners.

SEE OUR IMPACT

The SEAL Model

Research shows that when we treat English Learners’ home language as an asset, and we design learning to meet their needs, they succeed academically.

The research-based SEAL Model is designed to provide high-quality education to all English Learners starting in preschool through elementary school, and to prevent the development of Long-Term English Learners. We provide professional development, curriculum support, and technical assistance to school systems which bolsters learning for all children, but is especially critical for English Learners.

Learn more about our model

Refer to the following publications to learn more about the SEAL Model and how it is structured for students in preschool through 6th grade.

Preschool

VIEW

Preschool to 3rd Grade

VIEW

4th to 6th
Grade

VIEW

Pedagogical Practices Compared Across Grades

VIEW
MORE RESOURCES

Our Founding Story

Driven by a strong belief that school should create opportunities for all children to grow and succeed, the Sobrato family began a journey that led to SEAL’s genesis.

In 2008, with the Sobrato family specifically focused on improving outcomes for English Learners in San Jose and Redwood City, the Sobrato Family Foundation partnered with Dr. Laurie Olsen to design and pilot a new, comprehensive approach to learning in preschool and early elementary grades. The result of this pilot was the creation of the SEAL (Sobrato Early Academic Language) model. After external evaluation results proved SEAL’s outsized impact, the model was expanded and replicated, first in the Bay Area and then throughout the state. With consistent support from the foundation over 10+ years, SEAL is now an independent organization that continues to carry forward a powerful evidence base and to support implementation of proven practices. SEAL is now also pursuing wider goals, seeking to engage new partners in projects and activities that connect educators, researchers, advocates, and policy leaders to elevate English Learners and promote bilingualism for all students in California.

Our Journey

Loading...

Our Executive Team

Anya Hurwitz, Ed.D.
Executive Director

READ BIO

Priscilla Chen-Ok
Chief Financial and Administrative Officer

READ BIO

Patty Delaney
Director of Program and Partnerships

READ BIO

Jennifer Diehl
Director of Innovation and Strategy

READ BIO

Martha Martinez, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Evaluation

READ BIO

Laurie Olsen, Ph.D.
Founder and Strategic Advisor

READ BIO

Our Team

Monica Alegre
Digital Platforms and Communications Specialist

Jennifer Ancheta-Garcia
Program Coordinator

Abby Arrizon
Program Coordinator

Venus Cenizal
Program Coordinator and District Relations Administrator

Adriana Diaz
Program Specialist

Lupe Diaz, Ph.D.
Research Associate

Nanette Garcia
Production Materials Specialist

Barbara Ann Genovese-Fraracci
Program Specialist

Laura Hernandez
Program Manager

Krista Kleidon
Production Materials Specialist

Marna Ledesma
Program Specialist and Coach Coordinator

Joanna Meadvin, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator

Katie Mlakar
Program Coordinator

Patricia Montes Pate
Program Coordinator

Grace Perilli
Human Resource Manager and Executive Assistant

Michelle Rosecrans
Program Manager

Theresa Rossetto
Production Manager

Corina Sapien
Program Coordinator and District Relations Administrator

Ana Sanchez
Program Specialist

Jaylene Shelby
Program Specialist

Heather Skibbins
Program Manager

Cory Wechsler
Program Specialist

Ashleigh Williams
Program Specialist

Saul Zevada
Business Manager

Our Board of Directors

John Matthew Sobrato
Chair

READ BIO

Anya Hurwitz, Ed.D.
President

READ BIO

Kenji Treanor
Governance Chair and Secretary

READ BIO

Lisa Sobrato Sonsini
Treasurer

READ BIO

B.J. Cassin
Trustee

READ BIO

Libia Gil, Ph.D.
Trustee

READ BIO

José Manzo
Trustee

READ BIO

Ruby Takanishi, Ph.D.
Trustee

READ BIO

Ana Tilton, Ph.D.
Trustee

READ BIO