Today’s blog is a personal reflection as I think back to the past two weeks and all that went by my ears and eyes. It’s been a lot to process. There is so much anger and hate. I feel the need to reinforce what English Learner Portal stands for and why we do what we do. ALL children deserve to be loved. ALL children deserve a quality education. ALL teachers deserve the support they need to make that happen every day.
Earlier this week some friends and I -you may recognize them from the ELP website- sat on the lawn of a local concert venue and enjoyed the exhilarating sounds of Carlos Santana. While one of the hallmarks of a Santana concert is always the intersection of his musical reflections with his words of spiritual awakening, this night’s performance seemed more poignant than usual given the forces of anger and divisiveness of our country in recent days.
Yet even as Santana invoked the desperateness of recent events, his message focused not on the negativity of people’s actions, but rather on how each of us can harness the power of love and peace within to overcome the negative forces around us. “The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.” As Santana spoke, the entire audience rose to their feet in a spontaneous demonstration
of love and support. And as we stood, I was reminded that, despite of all the anger and hate we may perceive around the country, good things really ARE happening in our nation’s schools. Thousands, perhaps millions, of good people dedicate their careers and their lives to supporting and educating some of our most fragile learners.
For example, if today’s headlines have you longing for a feel good moment, all you have to do this Back to School season is follow a few teachers on Instagram. It is a joy to scroll through all of the amazing classroom designs, creative first week of school activities, and positive personal reflections teachers are sharing. When I think about how many students those creative teachers impact each year, I feel better about the world.
In fact, we are surrounded by so many good people, not just teachers, who are dedicated to the future of our children. Closer to home, a partnership between the school system, police department, and the National Compadres Network pulled together over 60 students in August for camps dedicated to the idea of “La Cultura Cura” or culture heals. This partnership works together all year to
provide adolescents with structure, guidance, lessons of self respect and the respect of others, as well as a lasting support network. I was able to visit during Joven Noble camp and the scene was beautiful. One leader was on the patio with a student who was visibly upset sharing that “people think I’m a badass and I don’t want to be a badass”. Chart paper was posted with reflections of earlier conversations about what people think of them and what they need. Partners were focused on creating the loudest machines possible with their STEM kits. (OK, the goal was to learn about circuits and create a machine that worked, but they were LOUD.) Students had four full days of escaping the pressures of the neighborhood and building relationships that will support them into the school year.
The leaders of the Joven Noble and Xinachtli camps will be writing their reflections for the ELP blog soon. For now, I will leave you with a few images that illustrate how they, like you and many among us, continue to work tirelessly day after day with an open heart: just being there, showing concern, being available, giving students a means and a place to express themselves.
THANK YOU to all educators, both in the schools and from the community, as we dedicate ourselves to a new school year. You make a difference. A special thank you to Carol Salva, who said it so well in a short video she created for our online book study. Carol said, “All language learners are an asset.” At English Learner Portal, we specialize in working with English learners, but our hearts and work are dedicated to ALL students. Pointing out those small moments that often go unnoticed, but make a difference in the lives of children, will be a focus of the ELP social media outreach this school year. Please follow us and share your moments as well!
Online Classroom: http://englishlearnerportal.teachable.com
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