Lisa Tabaku is a principal researcher at AIR, where she is responsible for overseeing and providing professional development and technical assistance to states and districts to improve educational outcomes for English learners. Tabaku has 30 years of experience in helping educate students of diverse language and cultural backgrounds. She served as director of PK–12 ELL Professional Development at the Center for Applied Linguistics and spent numerous years in a variety of roles in the District of Columbia Public Schools. These roles included director of Civil Rights and Multicultural Affairs, executive director of the Office of Bilingual Education, assistant principal of a Spanish-English, dual-language elementary school, professional developer, grant writer, curriculum writer, federal grants coordinator, and bilingual and English as a second language teacher. Tabaku’s direct teaching experience of linguistically and culturally diverse students spans grades PK–12.
Tabaku has served as an adjunct professor at American University, teaching reading and writing strategies to newly hired teachers of ELLs. Her expertise includes experience with the following as viewed from the perspective of the needs of English learner students: teaching to college and career readiness standards, implementing culturally responsive response to intervention strategies, the responsive classroom, readers’ and writers’ workshops, interdisciplinary and thematic project-based learning, second-language-teaching methodologies, multicultural education, and effective literacy instruction.