Change Agent: Orquidea Garcia, Supermamá de Cabarete

In the office of the Mariposa DR Foundation, located on Calle 9 in the Callejón de la Loma in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, Orquidea Garcia is known by her alias:”Supermamá”.

La Supermamá Orquidea (left) with Jennifer Dines (center), daughter Orianna (right) and two of the La Supermamá’s students

In 2010, when I first met Orquidea, she was very excited for her daughter, Orianna, to join the Mariposa DR Foundation’s First Ever Young Women’s Summer Leadership Program , an all-girls summer program that, in its first year, provided 50 at-risk teenage girls with four weeks of academics, activities, and excursions. When Orquidea agreed to join the program herself as a part of the School Staff Training Program, she took the first steps towards her new life as “Supermamá”.

Orquidea’s talents were immediately apparent in her abilities to use her quiet yet radiant personality to engage the Mariposa program’s young women in both casual conversation as well as in their academic work. I remember one day in early July of 2010, I walked into the library at Puerto Cabarete and saw Orquidea with a group of twenty or so girls. Not one of the girls turned towards myself or Mariposa Assistant Director Jessica Lawson when we entered the library. Orquidea had these young ladies completely enamored with a Spanish translation of Tomie di Paola’s Italian folktale Strega Nona. Afterwards, when I commented to Orquidea about her abilities as a librarian, she said: Jenny, tengo mucho ánimo. “Jenny, I have a lot of positive energy.”

Along with her neighbors and best friends, Claudia and Kathy, Orquidea continued to volunteer with the Mariposa DR Foundation, and in the fall of 2011, she was extremely excited when Executive Director Tricia Suriel arrived at her home along with Jessica Lawson to offer her a job working in the office of the foundation.

Today, Orquidea works full-time for the Mariposa DR Foundation, where she serves as the office manager. Each morning, she starts her day by chatting with the program’s young ladies as she prepares breakfast for them and then sends them off to school. Orquidea has gained many computer skills as well as learned English through her work in the office, and she handles e-mail and phone correspondence, arranging trips, appointments, and guest speakers.

Additionally, Orquidea tutors younger girls in mathematics, and she works closely with the girls in the health class alongside of clinical child psychologist Alexandra Milián Martinez. Although Orquidea admits that she worries frequently about the problems that these young ladies discuss in their groups, from typical trials of coming-of-age to more intense personal and family struggles, she loves being able to guide the young women of her community through their teen years and she is learning much from Martinez, her mentor.

Orquidea hopes to complete a degree in psychology at the local university in Puerto Plata, and she is currently taking the first steps towards making her dream a reality – Orquidea is completing her bachiller or high school diploma in evening classes at Puerto Cabarete, a local public school. Orquidea says that working with the Mariposa DR Foundation made her realize that she was actually very smart. Although she attended school through the 8th grade, she didn’t really think of herself as a serious student or learner until she began working with the young ladies in her community.

Between her roles as an office administrator, social work intern, student, and mathematics tutor, Orquidea remains a “Supermamá” to her beautiful daughter, Orianna, now age 13. Orianna graduated from the 8th grade in June, and she will begin classes at Colegio CADIN, a private preparatory school, in Islabón on Monday.

Orquidea is an inspiration to her friends, family, and students in the Cabarete community, and Literacy Change is proud to feature her as our very first Change Agent profile because Orquidea is making positive changes in education in her community, and she is a model of a teacher who is also a learner.

Read with Passion!: “Roslindale event was poetry in motion”

I can’t believe that Rozzie Reads Poetry  generated so much interested. The Roslindale Transcript printed an article about the event online, and it was also featured in the print version of the paper. See – poetry is headline news in our Roslindale community!

 

Roslindale Village’s Poetry Party

Roslindale Village’s Poetry Party on Boston.com

There’s me right there standing on the street reading poetry with my huge sunglasses. I feel so proud of all that happened on Thursday evening. This was a great way to begin my summer vacation.

Ashley Adams reads on the steps of Minerva’s Owl.

 

Rozzie Reads Poetry: Taking Poetry to the Streets!

Rozzie Reads Poetry took place on August 2, 2012 from 7 pm – 8 pm. Residents of our Roslindale community read poetry in public places around the square. This event was sponsored by Friends of the Roslindale Library and by Roslindale Village Main Streets. The Roslindale Community Center hosted our pre-event meeting spot in their wonderful air conditioning.

What happened?

About 25 readers came out in white and gold to the streets of Roslindale to read poetry to the masses. Our readers read at 4 different locations around Roslindale Square. We read poems from famous poets, such as e.e. cummings and Robert Frost, as well as poems from local poets. One of our readers even read a poem written by her best friend who lives in Seattle! This event was very special because it showed that adults in our community are role models of literacy who are willing to take risks and put themselves out there in order to share a passion for poetry. Tonight I really teared up at one point (behind my sunglasses, of course) because people came together for the simple reason of loving poetry. It was so great to see adults and children listening to poetry from inside their cars with the windows down and stopping as they passed by on the street.

What’s possible?

Imagine if this became a regular event in our community. Every child would grow up with poetry in their lives. They would see the world around them as a place where poetry lives, and it would become a part of them. Let’s do it again, everybody! Of course, I will let Jude, Phyllis, Laura, Sarah, Georgia, David, David, and Cathy handle all of the hard stuff…I will just come up with the next dress code.

The Village Market

Daniel Johnson, Executive Director of  826 Boston reads outside of the Village Market.

The Clock on Birch Street

Jude Goldman reads at the clock on Birch Street.

Redd’s in Rozzie

Poets read on the patio at Redd’s in Rozzie.

Minerva’s Owl

Christine Cignoli reads Invictus, and the longest memorized poem of the night was [anyone lived in a pretty how town] by e.e. cummings.

From ELLs to MELTs: Mr. Santana, Mr. Lara, Ms. Crispin, and Ms. Morrissett

I spent the past five weeks teaching the Catapult Learning Mathematics Level 6 program at my school‘s summer English Language Learners program. My students have transformed from ELLs to MELTs…Mathematics and English Language Teachers. As part of their final examination for the course, I required students to teach a problem to the class.  I have so much respect for my students because they are able to explain an abstract and complex cognitive task while speaking to an audience of their peers in a second language. In these videos, you cannot see the audience, but as an eyewitness, I can tell you that their listeners were fully engaged. So much so that they didn’t even notice when school ended fifteen minutes late, and neither did I.

Mr. Santana 

I have worked with Mr. Santana since he entered the 6th grade two years ago. Mr. Santana was able to engage the class through his sense of humor, eye contact, and clear demonstration. I love his emphasis on order – he even writes it on the board; isn’t that what mathematics is all about?

Mr. Lara

When I first met Mr. Lara at the beginning of the summer, he told me that he did not like me because I want to have everything my way and “that is just not always possible”.  I found his statement compelling and insightful. After all, it’s true that I cannot be in total control of other people, even my own students. He actually sounded just like me at his age. I told Mr. Lara that he did not need to like me, but he did need to meet my expectations in the classroom. Guess what? Despite some issues with tardiness, Mr. Lara turned out to be a wonderful student – smart and interesting. He made me a better teacher because his statement caused me to reflect on how I could let students have control of the classroom while maintaining a focus on the academics at hand. Mr. Lara’s video shows his capabilities with providing a clear and succinct explanation using academic English.

Ms. Crispin

Ms. Crispin began the last school year in a classroom for SIFE (Students with Interrupted Formal Education) students. Her video clearly demonstrates perseverance – although she was nervous and shy, reverting to informal English when her confidence waned – she got through this presentation. After the recording ended, she was so surprised when I told her that she had demonstrated the problem correctly. Ms. Crispin spent a lot of time studying the multiplication table this summer, and I am proud of how she integrated this knowledge into her presentation of division. Interesting Fact: Ms. Crispin loves anime, and she can speak some Japanese!

Ms. Morissett

Sometimes when I see myself teach, I feel really sorry for my students. I know how demanding I am, but I feel like I get great results sometimes. Ms. Morissett came into my class this summer with very limited skills, but she studied, studied, studied, and here she is teaching…after a pretty harsh warm-up. She is the very definition of persistence – even when she struggled and had some incorrect calculations, she was able to recover and self-correct. I absolutely love her determination. Watch out, world…here she comes!

In other news…

Rozzie Reads Poetry is TOMORROW! I will be reciting “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes Check out my ad:

The best way to begin writing is to begin writing.

“The best way to begin writing is to begin writing.” – Mrs. Dines

Perhaps I wasn’t the first person to say that. But that’s what I tell my students, and I am taking my own advice. I have been pondering the idea of starting an education blog since April when I met Lillie Marshall, the author of Teaching Traveling. As a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards candidate-in-progress, I had been thinking of ways to improve my professional leadership and advocacy, and writing about my passions online – literacy, ESL, and special education – had not occurred to me.

In public education, expressing one’s perspective too strongly can sometimes backfire or be misinterpreted. I wondered how many educators would really put themselves out there in an honest and compelling way. After all, education is honest and compelling work  – teachers work with real live human beings who contain all the beautiful messiness of life.

I began searching for educational blogs, and I noticed how the teachers who write online sound professional, capable, and interesting….and resourceful…and people are truly interested what they have to say, based on all of the comments that their blogs receive. When I came across Shelley Wright’s article on blogging as the new persuasive essay, it made me consider the idea that blogging would help me model academic risk-taking for my students. And I decided it would be worth it.

I am fairly nervous to put myself and my perspectives on education out “there” on the “World Wide Web”. What if it gets too personal? What if I get “in trouble” for something I post? What if people criticize my ideas? Or, worst of all, what if no one cares? But, I am going to take the risk because my students might see me as a model of academic writing, other people might benefit from the resources I post, and I might have the potential to help somebody that I would not necessarily connect with in another way.

My goal is to post on here every day, so look for a little something from me daily, and perhaps I can make a change in literacy for someone, somewhere. There, I began!