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Highest Aspirations

Author: Ellevation Education

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On the Highest Aspirations Podcast, we engage in important conversations about the most rapidly growing student demographic in the United States - English Language Learners. We speak with educators and students, researchers and policy makers, and parents and community members about how we can help all students reach their highest aspirations.

Join us on this important journey as we bring the vibrant ELL Community together around the topics that matter most to the students we serve.
111 Episodes
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If you'd like to share what you are doing to support English learners during this challenging time, take 2 minutes to fill out this form. You can find the blog post version of this episode along with great resource and a special message on our ELL Community.  --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
Why is reading culturally relevant books such an important part of language acquisition? What can educators do to make sure students have access to relevant and engaging reading materials - both at home and at school? How can providing access to books for immigrant families help promote educational equity?  We discuss these questions and much more with Hermenegildo Paulo, an inspirational educator and recent English Learner now working in Portland Public Schools in Maine. An educator and English Language Learner himself, Mr. Paulo cares deeply about overcoming inequities that impact the English Language Learner student population and their families. A native of Angola, Mr. Paulo is a passionate math educator who instructed students in kindergarten through college in classrooms of sometimes more than 80 students.  During his decade of math instructional experience in Angola, he strived to use best practice and initiate new programs to develop supportive relationships with his students and their families. Upon moving to the US, Mr. Paulo knew that his only way back into a classroom was through proficiency in English, a language that he did not speak. Starting in early 2017, he worked tirelessly to learn English, and found himself back in a classroom less than a year after moving across the world. Mr. Paulo holds a post-graduate certificate in Education Management from the Catholic University of Brasilia and a Bachelor's in Math Education from Instituto Superior de Ciências da Educação de Luanda in Angola.  Now he works supporting English Language Learners and their families as a Language Acquisition Technician and Interpreter at Reiche School in Portland, ME. He is excited to share information about his new program, Reading Refuges, which helps overcome home literacy inequity. Mr. Paulo works with students and their families to curate a home library, complete with first language and English books. Books are then placed into storage crates, with a seat on top of them, so children have a portable, comfortable place to enjoy a good book at home. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How can Newcomer Academies help immigrant students get off to a good start in on their academic journeys? Why is community and family engagement so important and how can educators implement strategies that work? How do we go about streamlining EL programs while also mitigating concerns around change management? We discuss these questions and in the first in a series of episodes featuring Ellevation Educators of the Month, an award program we kicked off on October of 2019 to recognize and celebrate educators who go above and beyond in supporting the needs of their multilingual students. In this episode, we speak with Dr. Geniene Delahunty of Boone County Schools in Kentucky. Geniene was nominated by her colleague Kathy Hammonds, who is also featured in this episode. Dr. Geniene Delahunty is the Director of Language Learners at Boone County Schools, KY. Geniene has been working in education for 18 years and is still as passionate about serving the needs of students as she was on day 1. Being born and raised in South Africa lends a unique perspective to her life and educational career. She is dedicated to equity in education, and addressing differences - not barriers (for example ‘language’). Active on Twitter (@geniened) to connect with other educators and community leaders, Geniene is always eager to learn. Geniene and her husband adopted 4 boys from Taiwan (at ages 7, 10, 12 and 13). When not at work Geniene can be found on her 15 acre mini-farm, with ducks; chickens; dogs and her bearded dragon. Kathy Hammonds started her teaching career near her hometown and taught Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. While working there she attended Union College where she received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. After a few years, she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where she taught 3rd and 4th grade as well as serving as a Literacy Specialist and Interventionist. This is where her passion for working with English learners started and grew. She returned to Kentucky to work as a classroom teacher in Boone County, where she now works as an English as a Second Language Teacher in her building. She enjoys working with my teachers every day as a team to support the learning of all students. Her team also works closely with their families and community. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
This is a very special episode of Highest Aspirations, not only because of our well known and highly respected guest, but also because almost all of the questions come directly from our listeners. We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this episode by submitting questions for Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Enrique’s Journey and we’d love to keep the conversation going. You can use our voicemail feature to share your comments so we can share them in future episodes.  We also want to offer a special thanks and congratulations to Emily Golightly from Carteret County Schools in Morehead City, NC who is the winner of our drawing to win a copy of "Enrique’s Journey". During our conversation, Sonia and I discuss her inspiration for writing "Enrique’s Journey", how themes in the book connect directly with the students we work with, what we can do to help curb the cycle of violence that force so many to flee countries like Honduras, and much more. For those who may not be familiar with her work, we invite you to learn more by visiting her website at enriquesjourney.com. You can also read her column here. You can stay connected with us by joining our ELL Community at ellevationeducation.com/ellcommunity. There you can leave comments about this episode and others. You can also engage with great content like our short video series, blog posts, and articles. Finally, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This will help us continue bringing you the best topics and guests on Highest Aspirations. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How does Exc-ELL help teachers better serve their English learners and Dual language learners? How do we go about coaching others when observing classrooms and how does using observation protocols help administrators understand what teaching vocabulary, reading comprehension, and other strategies look like? How might we create a culture of giving and receiving feedback? Plus, we come back to the Seal of Biliteracy to ask how all this work might help more students access it. For more information on Dr. Calderón's expansive work, check out the show notes on Part 1.  --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
On this episode of Highest Aspirations, we feature part 1 of a 2 part series with Dr. Margarita Calderón, former Professor Emerita and Senior Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins University and author of several publications about multilingual education. During our conversation, we address the following questions: Why is it that many students are not receiving the Seal of Biliteracy after being on track for the recognition during their primary school years? How can we ensure that English learners and dual language learners are given the opportunity to engage in rigorous content area courses? Why is focusing on Tier 2 vocabulary, or connectors and transition words, so important to developing reading comprehension skills? How can a whole-school approach to professional development help content teachers infuse academic language into their lessons? Why are we still not seeing the progress we’d like in the areas of reading and writing for English learners and how can we to improve? For the past ten years Dr. Calderón, has been an Expert Consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights helping States such as Massachusetts and school districts come into compliance. As President of Margarita Calderón & Associates, Inc., Dr. Calderón and her team of 10 Associates conduct comprehensive professional development and coaching on ExC-ELL in many schools, districts, and state-wide Institutes throughout the country internationally (e.g., Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South America).  She was Co-Principal Investigator with Robert Slavin on the 5-Year Randomized Evaluation of English Immersion, Transitional Bilingual, and Two-Way Bilingual elementary programs funded by the Institute for Education Sciences/U.S. Dept. of Education. The Carnegie Corporation of New York funded a five-year empirical study to develop Expediting Comprehension for English Language Learners (ExC-ELL). Its purpose is to train math, science, social studies, language arts, ESL and special education teachers for integrating language, literacy and content in ALL classrooms. Another program, Reading Instructional Goals for Older Readers (RIGOR), was developed for Newcomers with Interrupted Formal Education. She developed the evidence-based Bilingual Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (BCIRC) program for dual language instruction which is included in the What Works Clearinghouse. Currently, Dr. Calderón collaborates with George Washington University on a Title III five-year grant to implement and further study “A Whole-School Approach to Professional Development with ExC-ELL.” Other research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S.Department of Labor, National Institutes of Child Health and Development, TexasEducation Agency, school districts, and State Departments of Education. She collaborated on longitudinal studies with Diane August, Maria Carlo and Catherine Snow on the National Study of Students Reading in Spanish and Transfer of Skills. Dr. Calderón has over 100 publications, including her most recent collaborative work featuring other well known experts in multilingual education, Breaking Down the Wall: Essential Shifts for English Learners' Success.  --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How do we move the needle from over-scaffolded, over-scripted dialogues to student-generated conversations that leverage academic language? What does a math-based conversation look like in a linguistically and culturally diverse classroom?  Why is it so important for teachers to come together to talk about communication in the classroom and how it fosters learning?  We discuss these questions and much more with Jeff Zwiers. Jeff is a senior researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the director of professional development for Understanding Language, a research and professional learning effort focused on improving instruction and assessment of English learners and other diverse students. He consults for national and international teacher development projects that promote language, literacy, lesson design, and formative assessment practices. Jeff’s research focuses on developing classroom instruction that fosters high-quality oral language and constructive conversations across disciplines. This is our second episode with Jeff Zwiers. Many listeners will be familiar with his book “Academic Conversations”, which provides Clear ways to support students in developing authentic, meaningful classroom conversation skills. Zwiers' research and work has impacted tens of thousands of classrooms across the country in providing equitable access to grade-level content for all learners, reflective of college-and-career readiness standards.” --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How can building routines for reasoning help reduce cognitive load and anxiety for English learners in math classes? How can strategies like Ask-Yourself Questions, Annotation, Sentence Frames and Starters, and The Four Rs help provide equitable access to mathematical thinking? What are some effective ways of teaching students the academic vocabulary necessary to have a seat at the math table? We discuss these questions and more in part 1 of our 2 part series with Grace Kelemanik and Amy Lucenta, authors of the book “Routines for Reasoning: Fostering the Mathematical Practices in All Students”. Most recently, Amy Lucenta served as a secondary mathematics Clinical Teacher Educator for the Boston Teacher Residency Program. Her experience spans K-12, teaching both middle and high school, then extending into elementary as a math coach. Her passion for helping struggling learners focus on developing the standards for mathematical practice is evident in the book and in our conversation, where she continues to explore how to develop mathematical thinkers through establishing routines that lead to success. Grace Kelemanik has more than 30 years of mathematics education experience. As a frequent presenter at national conferences, she meets and continues to support countless math educators on their journey as thinking facilitators. She has served as an urban high school math teacher, Education Development Center Project Director, and extensively supports new and pre-service teachers through the Boston Teacher Residency program. In an interview posted on their website, Grace addresses a familiar setting in our classrooms: “English Learners come into our classrooms expected to learn mathematics, which is new to them, in a language that is new to them, in a culture that is new to them.” In this episode, we discuss routines that support these learners. These routines will provide a structure for all of your students to get down to the business of discussing, defending, communicating, connecting and reflecting on the learning of mathematics. You can stay connected with us by joining our ELL Community. There you can leave comments about this episode and others. You can also engage with great content like our short video series, blog posts, and articles. Finally, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This will help us continue bringing you the best topics and guests on Highest Aspirations. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
In this episode, we bring you a conversation Ellevation co-founders Teddy Rice and Jordan Meranus.  Jordan and Teddy talk about how Ellevation’s origin story is directly connected to an EL teacher working to maximize impact on her students, how diversity and inclusion contribute to innovation, what organizations like ours need to do to stay connected with schools, and what you can expect from Ellevation in the near future. Plus, they provide a sneak peek into what's coming next from Ellevation! Stay connected with us by joining our ELL Community. There you can leave comments about this episode and others. You can also engage with great content like our Whiteboard Wednesday short video series, blog posts, and articles. Finally, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This will help us continue bringing you the best topics and guests on Highest Aspirations. If you have ideas, email us at highestaspirations@ellevationeducation.com and we’ll do our best to turn your idea into a future episode. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
Season 4 Trailer

Season 4 Trailer

2020-01-0904:07

How do we ensure English learners experience equitable access to rigorous content in math classes? What can we do to bridge the gap between research and practice in dual language programs? How do we ensure all students learn the academic language necessary to succeed in content classes? What supports do English learners and undocumented students need along the route to college admission? We cover these questions and much more in Season 4 of Highest Aspirations, an education podcast, where we engage in important conversations about our country’s most rapidly growing student demographic - English Language Learners.  We kick off Season 4 with a unique episode featuring Ellevation co-founders Jordan Meranus and Teddy Rice to discuss the past present, and (most importantly) the future of Ellevation. Spoiler alert - you’ll hear an exciting announcement in this episode! Jordan and Teddy are passionate about their work and fun to listen to, so don’t miss that episode when it drops on Tuesday, January 14th. As always, you can find all our free resources, including video series, blog posts, and more at ellevationeducation.com/ellcommunity. While you’re there, go ahead and join the community to get a weekly email with fresh content you can use and share with others. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
As you may know, Ellevation gives five $2,000 scholarships to deserving English learners every year. On this episode, we talk with Take the Pledge Scholarship winner Paola Martinez. Paola graduated from high school in Soledad, California and is currently studying business administration at the University of California Irvine. Like our other scholarship winners, Paola brings an important student perspective to Highest Aspirations. Listeners will appreciate her sincere reflection of her experience as an English learner, as well as the advice she offers for both students and teachers. Paola highlights her experience with Upward Bound, gives some great advice to EL students and teachers, and stresses the importance of reading in her educational journey. Stay connected with us by joining our EL Community. There you can leave comments about this episode and others. You can also engage with great content like our Whiteboard Wednesday short video series, blog posts, and articles. Finally, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This will help us continue bringing you the best topics and guests on Highest Aspirations. If you have ideas, email us at highestaspirations@ellevationeducation.com and we’ll do our best to turn your idea into a future episode. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
Have you ever avoided calling someone by name for fear of mispronouncing it? Have you given students nicknames to make it easier for you and fellow students to address them? How can mispronouncing, altering, or altogether changing students’ names affect their personal, educational, and social trajectories? Why is it important to change the narrative around names that some might consider difficult to pronounce and what can we do to begin? We discuss these topics and much more with N’Jameh Camara. N'Jameh Camara is an actor and author currently residing in New York. She is a proud first generation American of Filipina and Gambian roots. Having recently wrapped up the post-Broadway run of JUNK by Ayad Akhtar, she is currently performing in Macbeth at Classic Stage Company directed by John Doyle. She also did a year long run in the principal role of Nettie in the Tony Winning Revival of The Color Purple Broadway Tour, directed by John Doyle. Other credits include the World Premier of X: or Betty Shabazz vs. The Nation by Marcus Gardley, the Off-Broadway run of Julius Caesar and a Bobby and Kristen Anderson Lopez World Premier of Up Here at the La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Alex Timbers. Her voice can be heard on Amazon’s Audible, narrating audiobooks for young adults from Penguin Random House Publishing. For more information, check out the books, “Harbor Me,” “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices,” “A Peoples’ Future of the United States,” “You Bring the Distant Near,” and Fumbled and Gravity. N'Jameh received her Master of Fine Art from UC San Diego and has taught acting and movement workshops at various universities including Loyola University- New Orleans, UC San Diego, SUNY Oswego, Northern Arizona University and University of Central Missouri. She is a current member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association where she presented on Intersectional Arts Pedagogy in Singapore at the 2017 VASTA conference. As well as acting, N’Jameh enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She has also written and performed a one woman show about a young Maya Angelou, Marguerite to Maya. The show was developed with the Ubuntu Theater Project and was performed at Studio 67 in Oakland, CA, The Alameda Juvenile Detention Hall and the Eugene O'Neill Tao House for New Play Development. Other writing credits include The Monologue Project. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
What are some misconceptions about dyslexia and how do they affect English learners? What are some strategies educators can use to help identify dyslexia in English learners? How does family engagement come into play once a student is diagnosed with dyslexia and what challenges might emerge with families of English learners? We discuss these questions and much more in our conversation with Dr. Kelli Sandman-Hurley. Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D. is an author and co-founder of the Dyslexia Training Institute. She received her doctorate in literacy with a specialization in reading and dyslexia from San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. She is also completing her TESOL certification. Dr. Kelli is a certified special education advocate assisting parents and children through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plan process. She has training in mediation and also serves as an expert witness in the area of dyslexia. Dr. Kelli is a Past-President of the San Diego Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. She is a dyslexia consultant working with schools to improve services offered to students with dyslexia and training teachers. She co-created and produced “Dyslexia for a Day: A Simulation of Dyslexia,” and she is a frequent speaker at conferences. She is the author of the well-received book, Dyslexia Advocate! How to Advocate for a Child with Dyslexia within the Public Education System. Stay connected with us by joining our EL Community at ellevationeducation.com/elcommunity. There you can leave comments about this episode and others. You can also engage with great content like our Whiteboard Wednesday short video series, blog posts, and articles. Finally, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This will help us continue bringing you the best topics and guests on Highest Aspirations. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
Michelle Benegas, of Hamline University and the ELM Project dropped by to talk about site-based EL teacher leadership, the evolving (and elevated) role of the EL teachers, and how Ellevation is serving as a conduit for conversations about EL progress. Learn more about EL teacher leadership and professional development by listening to our full interview with Michelle and her colleague Amy Stolpestad. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
Kristina Robertson, EL Program Administrator at Roseville Public Schools in Minnesota, chatted with us about the our collective responsibility to educate English learners, how ESSA might helping support teachers who work with ELs, and her favorite features of Ellevation for both administrators and teachers. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
David Holbrook of TransACT stopped by our booth at the WIDA Conference in Providence, RI to talk about the impact of ESSA on EL programs, shifts from Title 3 into Title 1, and family engagement. You can read David's bio and find his recent contributions on TransACT's website. To learn more about ESSA's impact on English learners, be sure to listen to our full podcast episode David Holbrook and Ellevation's President and co-founder Teddy Rice. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
What are civil rights of English learners and how can schools sometimes unintentionally violate them? How can civil rights issues affect EL reclassification rates, access to advanced courses, and more?  Why do violations happen and how can schools avoid them? We discuss these questions and more with Dr. Ayanna Cooper. Dr. Ayanna Cooper is an author, keynote speaker and advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. She is the author of Creating and Sustaining Equitable Schools with English Learners (in press), co-editor of Black Immigrants in the United States: Essays on the Politics of Race, Language, and Voice (with Ibrahim, in press), and co-author of Evaluating ALL Teachers of English Learners and Students with Disabilities: Supporting Great Teaching (with Staher Fenner & Kozik). Her projects involve providing technical assistance internationally and in the U.S. to State Departments of Education, school districts and non-profit organizations. Dr. Cooper recently returned from an English language Specialist project in Kuwait. She was also recently elected to TESOL's Board of Directors for 2020-2023. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How does project based learning support the diverse language skills of English learners? What is the sustained inquiry process and how can it serve as a first step toward increased student communication and collaboration? How can project based learning enhance cultural responsiveness and help support English learners as assets to our school communities? We discuss these questions and much more with Elizabeth Leone. Elizabeth is an ESL teacher and Project-based Learning (PBL) coach in Manchester, New Hampshire. She teaches in a sheltered instructional settings for newcomers from all over the world. She completed her Masters in TESOL and her undergraduate studies in Elementary Education. Elizabeth is passionate about making learning more equitable and attainable for all students, especially those with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE). She uses project-based learning as a way to meet learners where they are with their language skills and rapidly streamline their education to get them into mainstream classes. Using PBL strategies, she is able to simultaneously work on language acquisition, content education, and 21st century skills in a way that keeps them motivated to learn. If you would like to know more about PBL for ESL, feel free to contact Elizabeth by email at eleone@mansd.org or follow her class blog on Instagram @ms.leone.ell.squad --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How do we go about creating successful co-teaching and co-planning partnerships to support English learners? What are some protocols that co-teaching and co-planning pairs should have in place to help mitigate any conflicts that may arise between co-teachers? How can school leaders support and amplify the practice to maximize impact on students? We discuss these questions and much more in our conversation with Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria G. Dove. Together, they have co-authored five best-selling Corwin books, including their most  recent, Coteaching for English Learners: A Guide to Collaborative Planning, Instruction, Assessment, and Reflection (2018). Andrea Honigsfeld, EdD, is Associate Dean and Professor in the Division of Education at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York. She directs a doctoral program in Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities. Before entering the field of teacher education, she was an English-as-a-foreign-language teacher in Hungary (Grades 5–8 and adult) and an English-as-a-second-language teacher in New York City (Grades K–3 and adult). She also taught Hungarian at New York University. She was the recipient of a doctoral fellowship at St. John’s University, New York, where she conducted research on individualized instruction and learning styles. She has published extensively on working with English language learners and providing individualized instruction based on learning style preferences. She received a Fulbright Award to lecture in Iceland in the fall of 2002. In the past twelve years, she has been presenting at conferences across the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates. She frequently offers staff development, primarily focusing on effective differentiated strategies and collaborative practices for English-as-a-second-language and general-education teachers. Maria G. Dove, EdD, is Associate Professor in the Division of Education at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York, where she teaches preservice and inservice teachers about the research and best practices for developing effective programs and school policies for English learners. Before entering the field of higher education, she worked for over thirty years as an English-as-a-second-language teacher in public school settings (Grades K–12) and in adult English language programs in Nassau County, New York. In 2010, she received the Outstanding ESOL Educator Award from New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (NYS TESOL). She frequently provides professional development for educators throughout the United States on the teaching of diverse students. She also serves as a mentor for new ESOL teachers as well as an instructional coach for general-education teachers and literacy specialists. She has published articles and book chapters on collaborative teaching practices, instructional leadership, and collaborative coaching. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
How might a conceptual framework help educators better communicate around EL program management, instructional practices, and more? How can using a framework encourage educators to assess their practice and identify where they can improve? What benefits does all this have for multilingual learners? We discuss these questions and much more with Ellevation’s own Adam Howard. Adam is currently a project manager here at Ellevation Education, where he works with school districts across the country to onboard and roll-out a suite of software that manages data analysis, teacher development, and student instruction. He has an extensive background in education, having spent nearly ten years in the English Language Development classroom supporting learners from all over the world. Adam has spent his career focused on integrating 21st-century technology into the classroom, disrupting the outdated, and promoting equitable learning opportunities to empower all students.  His background in educational technology contributed to his development of the SADI model, a conceptual framework that helps educators level set around English learner instruction and program management. The acronym stands for Simplification, Accommodation, Differentiation, and Integration. It is loosely based on the SAMR model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura that categorizes four different degrees of classroom technology integration. If you’d like to refer to the SADI model as you listen, you can find it at bit.ly/sadimodel. Be sure to subscribe to Highest Aspirations on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Also, please consider leaving us a rating and review on iTunes to let everyone know how we’re doing. This will help us get the word out and bring in more great guests. Finally, we love to crowdsource from the community! If you have an idea for a topic or guest for an upcoming episode, please reach out to stevens@ellevationeducation.com. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/highest-aspirations/message
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