I was unable to write you a message last week since I was out of town. I have family in Puerto Rico through my partner and needed to spend some time with them. I also used the trip to share funds that we raised this year at our ONE Love Benefits with the Luis A. Ferre Aguayo Elementary School in Palomas, Yauco. The school principal, Dr. Ana Orengo, thankfully accepted close to $300 from us, the Heketi community.
Dr. Orengo and I spoke for a bit about our schools. In the past few years, many public schools in Puerto Rico have been closed, forcing some families to commute for over an hour to have their child(ren) learn in classrooms with 60 or more students. After the hurricanes hit in September 2017, all schools closed for at least 2 weeks and opened so that children could continue learning. However, there was no electricity. Dr. Orengo's school spent approximately 6 months without electricity. Many families left and moved away, dropping her school's enrollment from over 500 children to 135 students across pre-Kindergarten to 6th grade.
Connecting with another educator in a completely different context reminded about why schools are truly amazing places. Although there are challenges, classrooms with children and teachers will find a way to grow as learners and community members. Families make this work go even deeper through their support and partnership. Education is a community's job and has to be done through collaboration.
I plan on staying in touch with Dr. Orengo and establishing more ties with the Luis A. Ferre Aguayo Elementary School. Perhaps we can have pen pals with different classrooms. Perhaps we can exchange ideas for teaching and share resources. Let me know if you have any ideas.
Please be sure that your child reads at home every day!