Materials for Maestros: Lessons in Compassion

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By Dorina Sackman-Ebuwa

A few weeks ago NNSTOY posted a letter in our Member News for any educators interested in adopting a school in Puerto Rico that was gravely effected by Hurricane Maria. The letter sparked interest in many and I was overjoyed and overwhelmed by the amount of emails requesting to learn more about the Materials for Maestros initiative.  Madeline Will covered the project in EdWeek, and since then , more than six schools were added, thanks to the amazing DODEA State Teacher of the Year in Puerto Rico, Menchi Veray. More than thirteen mainland teachers have set an example in giving, writing, volunteering and demonstrating teamwork thus far. In celebration of their efforts, I share the beautiful connections of compassion from the mainland to the island. Through compassion, generosity and good will, our network has begun to rebuild a foundation in Puerto Rico so that ALL children can be safe and receive their basic civil right.

Teacher Kim Condurso of New Jersey doesn’t know teacher Isamari Cruz of Puerto Rico. However, Kim sent boxes and boxes of books and resources to create an English library for teachers in Puerto Rico who lost everything. The librarians created a specific section for books given by students and teachers from the Mainland. Kim’s student letters made the volunteer teachers distributing the materials cry tears of joy and hope. Just try reading one and not seeing the beauty and kindness of these children. The letters will be shared so all schools, including extremely rural schools that are being neglected, such as Escuela Segunda Unidad Pedro Dias Fonseca in Cayey, PR and Escuela Pedro M. Dominicci in Cidra, PR. Ismari wrote, “The librarians at Colegio Lourdes en Hato Rey are overwhelmed with emotion about the generous donations and kindness of Mainland teachers and plan to organize many new mini libraries for schools.”

Teacher Barbara Walton-Faria from Rhode Island doesn’t know Vivian Rivera Maysonet of Puerto Rico. However, like Kim, Barbara sent an incredible number of books and supplies all donated by her students and colleagues at Thomson Middle School. Barbara and her students have sent a total of six boxes of school supplies to Puerto Rico.  Vivian’s fellow teachers caught the librarians diving into the boxes like kids on Christmas, with eyes of wonder, excitement and a few tears. The children didn’t want the “old” books, rather the “cool books” from the mainland state, “That was also an Island” as one student proudly connected. Moreover, Barbara’s donations were so generous, Vivian had her colleagues divide the supplies and deliver them to schools in more rural regions near Cidra  Puerto Rico.

Teacher Wyllie, of Newton Massachusetts doesn’t know Arlene Fajardo de Velazquez of Puerto Rico. However, Teacher Wyllie sent huge boxes, paying the shipping out of pocket, filled with supplies that will not only be distributed to the adoptive school, but to many other places where students and teachers are impacted including Escuela Superior Juana Colon in Comerio, Puerto Rico where teachers lost everything.  Vivan wrote, “We are blessed and thankful for those that see beyond mainstream mainland news and continue to help. We can see this is about the love of education, our future - the children and helping fellow teachers in need.”  Arlene wrote on her social media page to all the teachers who have since joined the Materials for Maestros initiative, “We will impact more this weekend. There's a Catholic Church that's serving as a refuge. All the toiletries, flashlights, etc, will go to them as they are in dire need of those materials as well as canned goods and an orphanage, La Casa de Todos in Juncos, PR will now have books, school supplies etc. The games & balls I will distribute amongst both so maybe the can have like a game center. The Priest lost everything inside the church and just reinvented the space for homeless students and families. Education is first here and everywhere you look there is some need. God bless you many times over. You have no idea what it means to us to serve as a vehicle of your good will. But may I add, God Bless the child who came in and gave their allowance to the teacher to send to us. There was not a dry eye in the room. We say God bless to the parents and teachers of this child who early on, teaches this child the very values that will make this child the future we need in this country.”

Besides the amazing teachers featured, many more teachers are creating such amazing cultures of compassion in their classrooms; teachers such as Karen Carberry Hansen of St. Augustine, Florida, Susan Fyffe Marino of Walton County, Florida, Jessica Paulicelli-Mostowski of Christa McCauliffe Elementary in Palm Bay, Florida, Nicole Sorenson of Orange County Florida, Erin Hutch of Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and Carolina Figueroa of Live Oak, Florida.

Materials for Maestros have created compassionate classroom cultures where all students learn to love one another, be thankful, and encourage others. If you are interested in this amazing initiative that is already transforming lives and empowering students, you can get more information on Materials for Maestros.

 

Dorina Sackman-Ebuwa is the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year, a National Finalist and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. She is currently a doctoral student researching the importance of EQ in pre-service teacher CRT ESOL courses and an accidental farmer in Madison County, Florida. @2014FloridaToy • [email protected]

 

 

 





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