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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

I had a conversation with my oldest son last night. He and his family live in Denver, so we chat or FaceTime every Sunday. The conversation turned to sharing our thoughts about recent, sad events going on in our country and elsewhere in the world. He lamented that besides being advocates and trying to make our feelings known, it seemed sometimes we have very little impact. But, he continued, he felt the very best he could do was to raise his sons to be loving, to care about other people, to do the right thing, and to respect women. “Mom,” he said, “You taught me those things.” (sigh)

Before I had children, I thought having a girl might be easier, given the fact that I had been an only child. I was a girl and I had a basic understanding of the game plan and the obstacles. But, listening to my friends who had daughters made me wonder if, in today’s society, I was ready to take on all that comes along with raising a girl… the rape culture, the princess culture, struggles with body image- Oh my!

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Well, I ended up having three boys and, as it turns out, raising children of either gender is challenging. Boys deal with different kinds of pressures and have to live up to different expectations.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

 

 

Girl students Yabucoa

At this point, it might be useful for us to ask ourselves…what is this act, what is this scene in which action is taking place, what is this agency and what is its purpose?”

Ralph Ellison, Lecture to Teachers, 1963

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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I became an educator because I wanted to impact the lives of students in the same ways that my teachers did for me. See, I owe so much to the educators who invested their time, care, and love in me. They saw something in me and never gave up, no matter how many reasons I gave them to do so (believe me, they had PLENTY of reasons).

What I never expected was the impact that my students would have on me as a person. Not one day has passed where I have not been in awe of at least one of my students. I have seen high levels of excellence in academics, athletics, arts, and other areas. I have witnessed students overcoming the highest odds stacked against them to overcome and be successful. I have worked with so many kids who deal with things that would make the average person crumble into pieces.

To say that my students inspire me on a daily basis is an understatement. They reinforce my why for being an educator every single day. They challenge me to be the absolute best that I can. They are the reason I decided to move into the realm of politics. They have unknowingly become my motivation and are the inspiration behind the Our Future First movement.

Over the years, we have been through a lot. I remember an 8th grade class being very upset about remarks that their building principal made during an awards assembly. When they came back to our room, they suggested writing a letter and having the entire 8th grade sign it. They dictated the letter to me as I typed it for them. They distributed it to their peers and explained the cause. They presented it to the their principal. This was all them, with some positive encouragement from me to do what they thought was right and just.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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There I was, standing in the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center staring in awe at the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting while listening to the story of Pickett's Charge with my students. Hearing the story of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, with more than 51,000 casualties, immediately made my head spin. 

Events of this magnitude are hard for us to fathom. At one point, I turned to my students and we started to discuss how people were willing to take such a hard stand and fight and die for the freedom of others. Imagine seeing the oppression and abuse from slavery and finally deciding that this was not acceptable. What goes through the minds of people upon realizing that they may die to obtain liberty for a group of people that they do not identify with?

While there were people ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to change the lives of others, surely there were others who were not willing to get involved. What were these people doing during these times of struggles? Were they sitting home nestled in the safety of their carefully crafted reality ignoring what was unfolding around them? Did they lean toward one side or did their opinions reflect a more ambiguous mindset? What did their silence say about them?

Here we are in 2016, over 153 years removed from the Battle of Gettysburg and the looming end of the Civil War and slavery. We are still witnessing acts of violence and intolerance directed towards people who are minorities in our country. We have a president-elect who continues to stoke the flames of hatred and inequality by appointing a self-proclaimed racist as his chief strategist, who owns stock and has financial interests in a company trying to push our indigenous brothers and sisters off their land, and who continues to appoint individuals to positions of power that have histories of standing against what America stands for. 

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

 

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I have experienced so many emotions since learning that 25.5% of this country voted to elect Donald Trump as the next president of our country. Mad, angry, shocked, frustrated, betrayed, scared, and worried are just a few of the feelings that have flooded me. As an educator and a student of human emotion, I understand that love is the only answer to all the issues that this country is facing.

This is why I choose love, but there are things that we need to discuss. Love does not involve blindly accepting what is given to you. Love means questioning and exposing things that need addressing. Love requires us to feel uncomfortable and to take risks to better ourselves. Tough love is an absolute necessity if we are going to move forward and obtain any kind of peace.

Before you read on, I need you to recognize that you might not be ready for the kind of love that I am going to dish out. Real love requires brutal honesty and a step outside of the very comfortable confines of the realities that we have created for ourselves. I ask that you proceed with an open-mind and recognize that this entire piece is grounded in nothing but love for my fellow human. If we are going to continue moving this country forward, we need everyone to embrace love and stand together.

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