It was a cool day for August, which was lucky for the five students busy painting a mural in a courtyard of asphalt and brick. After a long period of learning alone from computer screens, the students were working together to add a burst of color to their school building in the West Bronx, the Theatre Arts Production Company School, or TAPCo. The mural is one of about 200 going up at schools across New York City, funded by $25,000 grants to each school through the city’s Artist Corps, a recovery program through the Department of Cultural Affairs that has sent nearly 400 artists to summer school sites. Mayor Bill de Blasio has touted the corps as reminiscent of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which funded arts and cultural projects to help lift the country out of the Great Depression.
The coronavirus pandemic forced students out of the classroom and starkly revealed how learning difficulties, distractions and challenging home dynamics can make it tough to adhere to a rigid curriculum. In a year with so much loss, a silver lining is that educators are embracing a flexible approach that meets students where they are, said Juliana Urtubey, the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.
Note: You can see more from Juliana in our Colorín Colorado interview with her!
Natalia Benjamin’s love of learning languages started early. Growing up in Guatemala City, the native Spanish speaker attended a French school. English became her third language when she started learning it in middle school. Now, Benjamin teaches English language learners and ethnic studies at Rochester’s Century High School. And on Wednesday night, in a ceremony under a white canopy on the lawn of the State Capitol, she was named Minnesota’s 2021 Teacher of the Year. She is the first teacher of Latin American heritage to win the prestigious honor.
Devora Guerrero, a coronavirus outreach volunteer in Montgomery County, Md., saw five family members, including her grandmother, get the virus last year. She herself tested positive in December - and despite it all, Guerrero was afraid to get the vaccine. The 23-year-old's friends had nearly convinced her that the vaccine was not safe - but then she met Abuelina.
They waited with bated breath, hoping the moment for when all the hard work of practicing and performing their speeches had finally paid off — and it did, despite a global pandemic. "I watched them in their final round as they were competing in front of the computer, and I was just crying just because I was so happy, because I knew what that meant for them," said Corin Serrano, coach of Santa Ana High School's speech team.
As the night falls on Christmas Eve, most American children are headed to bed in hopes seeing what Santa dropped off during the night. For many families in the Latinx, Hispanic and Filipino community, the party is already underway, with tamales, adobo, lechón and pancit on deck. Nochebuena, which translates to "the good night," is a yearly holiday in which certain communities celebrate Christmas on the night of Dec. 24 rather than Dec. 25. While the traditions and celebrations of the night can vary based on culture and region, a common theme persists: it's about being together.
PBS is celebrating throughout December with a line-up of Holiday Classics and new specials. The brand-new Alma’s Way special will help viewers everywhere celebrate two very important holidays for many Latino families – Nochebuena and Three Kings Day. And any animated holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without the classics from Peanuts, Arthur, Wild Kratts, Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, Peg + Cat, Nature Cat, and Let’s Go Luna (check local listings).
The Omicron variant is sweeping the United States just as most school systems are heading into a weeklong (or more) winter break. And while there’s still a lot we don’t know about Omicron, we do know it has surpassed Delta as the main source of new cases and it is the most contagious variant yet. It poses the greatest risk to people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. And though it is showing a heartier resistance to the vaccines than earlier variants, people who are fully vaccinated and who’ve also received a booster are less likely to be infected and experience serious illness.
American Indians in Children's Literature offers a review of "The Sea in Winter," written by Christine Day and published by Native imprint Heartdrum.
Mina Stanekzai, 8, strapped on a princess backpack, slipped on her pink shoes that light up when she walks, and — her leg still injured from a suicide bomb — bounced out of her aunt’s Northern Virginia apartment for her first day of school in America.