Shirin Herman

Shirin Herman
Every refugee Shirin Herman meets in her role as a pioneer of Houston ISD’s Refugee Program has her cell phone number. It’s that attention to detail and care for people that led to her selection for Monuments by Craig Walsh at Discovery Green. When asked to summarize her work in her own words, she said, “It doesn’t take that long to help someone so even if I’m eating or something, I don’t need to eat that bad. I can help.” 

For 19 years, Herman has helped students from countries such as Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan find a place in school at HISD and to access higher education. Before taking the role, she was an English as a Second Language teacher for HISD for 17 years. Refugees often come from war torn countries and the children suffer from trauma. Some have never been to school before. While it can be difficult to adjust, they soon learn that school is a safe place where they are served breakfast and lunch. They learn that the U.S is a great country, she says. She says she hopes people realize how important it is to get refugees settled quickly into school and learning English.

Every refugee who comes to the U.S. wants an education and a job and Herman feels honored to help them achieve that goal, she says. Herman says she was motivated to work with English-learning students and refugees after coming to this country in college from Tanzania where she spoke British English. The American accent and idioms were difficult for her to learn. The experience made her realized she wanted to help others. Her passion for her job easily brings her to tears she says because she feels so lucky to witness the impact education has on these children.