California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) is taking initiative when it comes to putting more Latinos in and in front of the classroom. The college has received a $3.75 million grant toward programs for Latino students who want to become teachers at San Joaquin Valley area schools. Latino teachers represent 25 percent of public schools in Fresno County, while Latino students make up 65 percent of the population, according to the California Department of Education.
The goal of the new program is to increase the number of bilingual Latino teachers who will return to teach in their hometowns.
A $3.75 million dollar grant has been issued to Fresno State University In order to help recruit bilingual students interested in becoming teachers. https://t.co/LGrmVTAIMr Via @ABC30
The historically Latino area is at a disparity when it comes to teacher-student ratio. There are currently 3.3 million Latinos attending California’s K-12 public school and with nearly 1.4 million English learners in the state. The gap is growing most noteably in Fresno County.
The program will start with recruiting early in local high schools, helping students through the community colleges then into Fresno State’s liberal studies and teacher credential program to earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. Patricia D. Lopez, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Fresno State, believes that the program comes at an important time in the history of the school district.
“As this population continue to grow that disconnect continues to stagger and it has gone up over the years,” Lopez said. “You can find a campus full of Latinos but only small handful of Latinos teachers. At the administrative level you are praying on this demographic to shoulder the responsibility and it plays into both the students and administration.”
Lopez says the disparity may have to do with retention rates. A recent study shows that Latino teachers are leaving the profession at higher rates than their peers.
Lopez says that district leaders must pay as much attention to understanding and creating the right culture to retain Latino teachers as they do to recruiting them. That starts with listening and learning from teachers and focusing on creating a culture where students and teachers are both set up to succeed.
“We really do need to do more when it comes to four year college graduates and retaining them,” Lopez says. “We can always do better and seeing so many Latino teachers leave the field is indicative of the lack of support they may have.”
Almost half of all undergraduate students at Fresno State are Latino and the percentage is higher at Fresno City and Reedley colleges where the Latino student population is 53 percent and 71 percent. This places an emphasis on having a sizable amount of teachers that reflect the population in the area.
The grant will also allow all three campuses to hire advisers and counselors dedicated to serving the would-be teachers.
“The grant is putting resources in advisers that will help students throughout the program,” Lopez says. “Having cultural understanding, breaking language barriers and understanding financial restraints are important and we think of them as holistic resources for our teachers.”
The teacher program will start in 2019 with 30 students who will take community college classes for two years before transferring to Fresno State. Each of the three campuses will have a designated resident counselor and director to support students throughout the program. Lopez hopes that by recruiting students from the Fresno community that will lead to them teaching locally. She has already seen a positive reaction from teachers, former students that are now teachers and students that want to be part of the program,
“This pipeline program is huge not only for the state at-large but for our community here where many are asking how can I be apart of this,” Lopez said. “People want to be a part of the conversation here in the central valley and hopefully that leads to having more Latinos leading classrooms.”
During a town hall on Tuesday, President Joe Biden underlined the importance of ensuring that teachers are moved up higher on the list of those who are getting vaccinated for Covid-19.
Speaking about his latest efforts, the president stated that teachers should be moved up in the hierarchy and answered a question from a high school teacher about his plans to safely reopen schools. In his answer, Biden stated that he believed officials should avoid resuming large classes and instead should “smaller classes, more ventilation, making sure that everybody has masks and is socially distanced.”
It’s a step in the right direction of showing teachers how important they are to us amidst a discussion about respect for teachers on Reddit.
Check the replies below.
“I went to a small charter school for middle school. Our English/literature teacher was brand new to teaching, if I remember correctly she was only 22 which seemed old at the time. She always did her best to be so cheerful and make learning fun. But the thing that truly solidified her spot as my favorite teacher was that for every student’s birthday she would give you a personalized mini notebook. It was just a simple small composition notebook but she had filled the first couple pages telling me how much she loved having me as a student, how far she knew I would go, and other affirmations. It seems small but as a 13 year old who had a crappy home life it made all the difference in how I acted the rest of the year.”-Voiceisaweapon
“When I was in the 1st grade my mother gave me one of MANY really awful haircuts. The first day back at school afterward the kids picked on me horribly. So much that I ran out and hid. The principal found me and we went back to the classroom and he asked me to wait outside for a minute while he talked to the class. He then walked me to his office and bought me a Coke. The next day – first thing in the morning – we had an assembly with the entire school and he walked up on stage with his head shaved completely bald and talked about bullying and the like. Some twenty years down the road he had retired and I ran into him at the local college. SHook his hand and said, “You probably don’t remember me, but,”
“yes I do,” he interrupted and said my name and the event. The man was and is a hero in my eyes.” – hopgeek
“I had a teacher in elementary school who was prone to outbursts. He had a short fuse, at least compared to every other adult I knew at the time. For instance, when several of us in class weren’t listening he’d throw a piece of chalk against the wall to get our attention.
Honestly, we just thought he was crazy.
A year or maybe two years later, the school had a talent show. Like a big one, in the gym, in front of everyone. One my classmates was really into music and wanted to play a drum solo. Our teacher had mentioned off-hand that he used to be in a band and played drums, so my classmate asked him (sort of dared, like kids often do with adults) to play a solo in front of the school
And he did. He fucking rocked it.
But that’s not what made me respect him. Turns out the band he played for was a very successful, and at the time quite popular rock band. He left just before they became popular, because he wanted to be a teacher. He chose teaching kids over the chance at fame and fortune, and didn’t regret it.
Edit: Decided to look him up and he’s still a teacher, and doing very well. Made me smile.”- dasoberirishman
“I had a physical education teacher who organised basketball, volleyball, handball and football tournaments, organised ‘olympic games’ for the local kids and taught us dancing on weekends. On his own. Just for us kids, because we lived in a remote place without many activities and things going on. He was more than a simple teacher.”- dasoberirishman
“When I was a kid we had to purchase these red punch cards to get lunch at school. Unfortunately we didn’t have that much money so there were times where my punch card would run out and I wasn’t able to eat for a while until we got enough money to repurchase another one (why nobody in my family applied for assistance was beyond me). I had one teacher who noticed I wasn’t eating every day and she would bring an extra sandwich and offer it to me whenever she saw that. I really didn’t understand how kind that was when I was a kid but obviously as an adult That was such an amazing gesture of kindness.”- sk8erguysk8er
“Not take my shit. I was a pretty decent writer in school; able to pop stuff out pretty quickly that was superficial but sounded good. The first time I had a teacher hand my work back pointing out that I managed to compellingly fail to say anything was sort of a slap in the face that I didn’t realize I needed.” –AvogadrosMoleSauce
“This will probably get lost, but I want to shout out this teacher of mine. She was our AP English Language teacher for our senior year of high school. On one of the first days in her class, she explained how she went from being a kindergarten teacher to a high school senior teacher.
She always saw off her cute and happy kindergarten kids, but as they grew up and they came back to visit her, a lot of them came to her troubled and dissatisfied with their lives. It made her real emotional about how people had treated these kids she loved so much, how she couldn’t afford to see kids so disconnected with life, and how she didn’t want them to suffer as they headed out towards college and their adult lives.
So she changed curriculums and started teaching seniors. If I remember right, it always came down to sending her kids off with a smile, prepping them for the real world. I respect the hell out of her and she’ll always be one of my favorites. Truly like a mother to all her students.” –NuluProton
“I had a professor once state that she doesn’t believe in trick questions. Students trick themselves up enough without the professor helping that along. She never did put trick questions.” –Nicholi417
“Junior year of high school, English class. We were discussing a story we had read. One student (let’s call him Carl,) made a point. The teacher was dismissive and basically said Carl was wrong.
The next day, after we took our seats the teacher said, “Before we begin, I was thinking about what Carl said yesterday. I was wrong to dismiss it so quickly. Let’s take a look at that again.” He then went on to repeat Carl’s point and initiate a conversation with the entire class. After the conversation, it became apparent Carl’s point was indeed off base, but I was impressed the teacher publicly owned his mistake and went down the path he should have.”- Andreas_NYC
“It was a professor, but she said she wasn’t going to have a textbook for the class. Basically, she didn’t respect the textbook representatives trying to take the pharma approach to force kids to buy an $170 access code.
Instant respect. You just had to show up to the lectures and she’d teach you what you needed to know.” –enchiladacheese
“A math teacher went to the hospital several times to visit a student who had been seriously injured in an accident.
The teacher offered companionship, free tutoring, and genuine encouragement.” –Back2Bach
“Told us a joke about his name (before we could) and allowed us to eat during his classes “because kids your age can’t help being hungry all the time”, as long as we did it quietly. Great guy. His whole attitude made all of us actually pay attention and do our best.” –Mom_is_watching
“math teacher : “I don’t care if you have good grades or bad grades, if you work hard, I will work harder to make you pass”.
“I had a sociology professor who gave us a Do Not Fail Checklist. Complete and you were guaranteed to pass. I also had a high school Chem teacher who bet us all $100 that if we passed his class we would pass our first college chem class. He was just really awesome all around- he told stories about travelling the world over breaks, got absurdly off topic to teach us random stuff, had a physics lab where we got to throw eggs at him, and occassionally we had a class where absolutely nothing got done because we were having a discussion. He used to give out quarters for correcting him, or for anything done really well. He put up posters about his trips and gave us extra credit quizes about them because he said being observant was really important in chemistry. Actually there were a few really weird activities in that class- I will never forget the time he ate chalk to prove to us that it was the same stuff as in milk. He was brilliant, hilarious, and just a really incredible human being.” –HylianEngineer
“I had a similar teacher. He would let us be who we were, listen to our ipod in class, and encouraged us to think outside “the class”.
I gained respect for him when he saw some kids going to skip and he called them into his class. Told them “if you’re gonna skip class than come to my class and do whatever you want in the back. Rather have you inside the school than outside”
Everyone loved that teacher while the other teachers couldn’t stand him. He had everyone’s respect.” –Raw1213
“I remember my 5th grade teacher had every student circle one book from the Scholastic book fair flyer. When the day came for the fair if you didn’t go to the library to purchase that book for yourself, she would buy it with her own money to make sure every student got to take a book home. I wouldn’t have had any books of my own if it weren’t for her.”- banhbohap
“Treated kids with autism + aspergers like actual human beings.
In my school I was in a special needs unit for kids with aspergers and autism called the CDU (communication disorder unit). The kids in there ranged from having mild aspergers to full on severe autism, and as such most teachers treated everyone from there like they had severe mental health problems just because they were labelled as having autism or aspergers even if it was very mild. But there was one support teacher in the cdu who was genuinely just a nice dude, whether he was talking to kids who had severe autism or just some mild social anxiety he wouldn’t talk extra slowly or call you “bud” or “pal” at the end of a sentence, he would talk to everyone like they were real human beings. It might seem like a small thing but when that’s how pretty much all teachers talked to you and treated you in every class it was very refreshing to talk to someone who would talk to you based on who you were as a person rather than treating someone differently for being labelled as autistic.” –mild_salsa_dip
“Thankfully this program didn’t exist at my school, Aspies had 504’s and more severe cases had IEP’s and certain classes were done by special teachers or with an extra teacher. Nobody was made to feel stupid or less than other students. That teacher is the kind that all nuerodivergent students love.”- TheCrazyBlacksmith
“English teacher in high school asked where my homework was. Responded “I forgot to do it” and he said to the rest of the class “Why can’t you guys be like Scratch_That_? He doesn’t come up with some excuse he just tells me he didn’t do it.” –Scratch_That_
“Instead of shouting at my loud class for not shutting up before the lesson began, my history teacher decided to quietly tell the story of a pink elephant that wanted to be an astronaut. After a few seconds, people started to shut up and listen about the pink elephant. When everyone was quiet and listening, he stopped mid-story.” –Cae1us
“I’m epileptic and had a large set of seizures not long before finals in high school chemistry. My seizures tend to mess with my memory, and those multiple seizures had devastated my memory of everything I’d learned in class that semester. I was doing reasonably well in class but absolutely bombed the test. After the failed test I ended up just shy of passing the class and he decided to give me a bonus question that passed me. I didn’t expect that, but the empathy was nice to see from a teacher. Even still, the whole situation sucked.
My math teacher told me I should have studied better. He then offered for me to retake the test which seems reasonable enough but there was no point as it was just all gone.
I’ve only had one since that was worse than that, but fortunately I’ve got an understanding employer. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve got a union rep as well…” –Early_or_Latte
“One of my high school math teachers had a policy that you could retake any test as many times as you needed to. No penalties. And she would help tutor you during any study hall or before or after school or during lunch.
Must’ve been a huge pain in the ass time wise to write new tests and tutor and grade. But her stance was that she was there to teach. And if you didn’t grasp it enough for the test, you didn’t gain anything by failing and moving on. But if you cared and wanted to learn how to do it, then she was responsible to support you the entire way there.
Edit: also now remembering that she spearheaded this thing around prom or dances where she and the other teachers would pool together some money and she would tell us that if any of us couldn’t afford the tickets or an outfit for them then to see her or drop a note on her desk or call her and she would make sure you got to go. And now having a better grasp on just how shittily we pay teachers – just an incredible person.” –PhiloPhocion
“Had an extremely zany teacher who taught Psychology, and had the last name Ward. Psycho personality (in the best way possible) to fit her name and job. Never met someone who fit their name and job description so well. (Worse, she taught driver’s ed too, on the side.)
She was the type whose zany personality was a big plus; most of her kids loved her, but if you effed around in her class, she’d eject you from it, with extreme prejudice.
She still teaches, and she teaches very well.
As an aside, there was also this middle-aged woman who was basically a hall monitor and filled in any other position she could think of, as well as handing out dententions or suspensions if she caught you effing around instead of being where you were supposed to be. Small lady, absolutely no-nonsense and tough as nails. She wouldn’t take shit from you, but also incredibly fair overall.
I realized she knew when to bend. My older two siblings hated her because she always caught them skipping class, smoking, or worse. I got along with her very well and never caused her any trouble. I asked her once about my little brother, and she said he was a good kid and while she’d had to give him detention a few times, she was also proud of him because when he got into a fight, he did it for the right reasons. My little bro’s a very tall, hulking guy and never hesitated to defend someone from a bully. It got him a few detentions for fighting but apparently she made it clear she was proud of him for standing up for others nonetheless.
I repeated this later to my brother, and he said she was a very good woman, very fair, and that he’d liked her for that fairness, and her sheer guts.”-MidorBird
For so many of us, our teachers are our heroes. They help make sure we have a safe place to come to, to learn in, to express ourselves. Teachers have helped shape so many of us into the people we are today.
That was the work that one El Paso teacher was doing all the way up until the very end. Unfortunately, she’s passed away after battling COVID-19, however, thanks to her compassion and commitment to education, her memory will live on for a very long time.
An El Paso teacher behind heartwarming viral video dies at 35 of COVID-19.
Zelene Blancas was a kind soul who shined positivity on everyone she meant, according to so many of those who knew her. Unfortunately, like so many other Americans and people around the world, Blancas recently lost her battle against COVID-19.
The first grade bilingual teacher from El Paso, Texas had gone viral for her positive vibes just two years ago in a video shared to YouTube of her students giving each other hugs and high-fives.
Blancas, who taught at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary School, died of COVID-19 and passed away this week, former Socorro ISD colleague Patty Flores shared on social media. In her social media post, Flores said she and Blancas worked together as fourth grade bilingual teachers.
“Ms. Blancas was a dedicated teacher who loved her students and provided a positive, loving environment for them. She had a light that shined from within and was a positive influence on all those around her,” Flores said. She added, “She was my colleague and friend and simply a beautiful person all around. She will be greatly missed but her legacy of kindness, love and joy will carry on with all those who were blessed to have known her.”
According to a GoFundMe page seemingly started by her family to raise money for her treatment, Blancas tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 20, had to be hospitalized on Oct. 24 and was placed in the intensive care unit. The GoFundme page had raised $33,226 of its $15,000 goal with almost 1,000 donors to the campaign as of Monday.
Blancas and her class had gone viral in 2018 for a video posted to YouTube.
In 2018, Blancas and her students went viral for a video showing Blancas’ students giving one student high fives, hugs and handshakes. The video quickly racked up the views and had received more than 13.6 million views in November 2018 and had 22.2 million views as of last week.
According to a prior story written about the viral video in the El Paso Times, the video showed an example of a new educational initiative at the time called social-emotional learning, which teaches young students how to cope with their emotions, handle conflict and develop interpersonal skills.
One student was chosen at random to be the recipient of friendly greetings and classmates chose one of four greetings from a set of four greetings pictured on an adjacent wall.
As the students left for the day, they lined up and chose which greeting to give the selected student, allowing students to feel in control of greetings they receive and allowing them to go home happy, Blancas told the Times.
“I want them to go home feeling like I’ll be waiting for them here the next day, or for them to feel like they’ll have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment,” Blancas said two years ago.
“Regardless of the grade level she taught she was an inspiration and motivation for her students,” Flores told TODAY. “What she taught all of us about creating that positive environment, even during long distance learning, will never be forgotten.”
Blancas also helped out following the El Paso massacre in 2019 at Walmart.
Following the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, 1,337 pairs of pink socks were sent to students at Shook Elementary School and on Nov. 19, 2019, a “Kindness” pep rally was held, encouraging students to wear their pink socks on Mondays and teaching them about kindness in the process.
Nick Adkins, co-founder of Pinksocks, told TODAY that Blancas was an example of the best of humanity.
“The ripple effect of love and kindness that she put out into the universe through teaching her kids through the years is immeasurable. Ms. Blancas and the entire staff and students at Shook are what we should all strive for each and every day, each and every now. She lives on in the love that she taught and spread. I am grateful for her. We all are,” Adkins said.