Griffs Under 40: Finune O. Shaibi '05

July 18, 2017


Buffalo, NY - Starting a new school can elicit unease in any child.  But if that child does not speak the native language, he risks failure even before setting foot in a classroom. This has been a familiar story within the Buffalo Public School (BPS) District, where more than 85 different languages are spoken. 

The narrative is changing under the leadership of Finune Shaibi. 

As supervisor of BPS’ Multilingual Student Placement, Shaibi and her team of nine multicultural specialists assess each incoming immigrant or refugee student and “purposefully place the child” within a city school most suited for their success.

Previously these children “were blended” into classrooms without a review of their prior educational histories, background experiences or native literacy level, Shaibi explains. Through the Language Assessment Center, Shaibi and her team now “properly assess the academic and linguistic needs” of each student and implement tailored academic plans.

Shaibi began advocating for a Central Registration Center representative for multilingual students in 2012, while working as a supervisor of ESL (English as Second Language).  She recalls “seeing herself” in the faces of children in the classroom.

Shaibi was born in the United States just weeks after her parents emigrated from Yemen. She began in the Buffalo Public Schools “without knowing a word of English.”

Which is why Shaibi’s personal experience makes her uniquely qualified to serve the rising population of new Americans in the Buffalo Public School District.