El Trabajo Sigue: Latinos for Education Programs Adapt to Changing Times
By: Dr. Rick Rodriguez
The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to present both challenges and opportunities for educators across the spectrum. With closures affecting at least 55.1 million students in 124,000 U.S. public and private schools, education leaders must remain at the forefront of ensuring students continue to receive a high-quality education and our systems are adapting to the growing needs of our diverse families.
Coupled with nationwide unrest driven by a long history of racism, the last year has been a brewing pot of instability, exhaustion, and fear for communities of color. Our students have not been immune to these exposures. A community of educators equipped with the skills to address racism within our education systems is vital.
We must seize the moment and at Latinos for Education we recognize our educators must play a critical role as we move forward in creating access and opportunities for all students. We believe in the power shared identities, experiences, and values have when being a voice and advocate for students facing crises. This power is activated when we embrace our Latinx identities and leverage them to expand our influence and impact..
In response to the changing education landscape of this past year, our team responded quickly to adapt program delivery and content. In 2021, we will deliver the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship and Latinx Teachers Fellowship as national cohorts with fully virtual modality. With each program, 50-75 Fellows will have the opportunity to engage in content centered on driving equity and leading through a socially just lens in education. Fellows will also focus on building a familia of Latinx educators across regions sharing best practices, collaborating in identifying solutions, and exploring how we as a Latinx educators elevate our leadership and voices. This is our professional family.
With over 200 alumni in our network, we are seeing our Fellows transition to new leadership roles, apply and enroll in post-graduate programs, launch businesses, or even expand their sphere of influence within their current positions. We must continue to lead from our identity, agitate when necessary, and work con ganas to positively impact the education of our students. Juntos, somo poderosos!
Nuestra familia continues to grow and you too can be a part of this powerful network! Applications for the 2021 programs are open. Learn more and apply: www.latinosforeducation.org/programs.
Here is what our Alumni are saying about their experience:
“The toughest part of teaching during COVID-19 has been lack of student engagement. There were so many factors that played a role in disengagement; social-emotional health, finances, and lack of accountability. After participating in this cohort, I’m convinced even more that I don’t need to be a leader with a title to make a difference in the lives of the students that we work with. Student advocacy can be promoted on any given day through any situation, even as a classroom teacher.” – Norma Iris Chaparro, LTF Alum ‘20, Dual-Language Teacher, West Chicago ESD
“As a Latinx leader, particularly as one who has traversed the educational system as an undocumented student, I have always felt an innate desire to be the “best” in any room. Though I have achieved great milestones in my life, this competitive way of thinking, and ultimately living, is exhausting. This fellowship allowed me to decompress and let go of the competitive veneer that I felt compelled to present in predominantly white or “exclusive” spaces for most of my life. I did not feel like I had to prove that I “belonged” in these group sessions and it was refreshing to unpack various issues afflicting the Latinx community with other leaders who truly understand. I also really needed a network that prioritized Latinx issues and I appreciate that I now have a sounding board for any new idea or project that I feel can really help our community.” – Franco Martinez, ALLF Alum, Houston ‘19
“This was a worthwhile experience for young professionals who are committed to a unique professional development experience grounded in their Latinx identity. It is also a necessary professional experience designed to push your limits beyond what you think you are capable of. L4E is committed to the growth, development, and leadership of Latinos in education. I am proud to have been a part of the second class of Aspiring Latino Leaders and look forward to the collective impact of our cohort, the cohort before us and future cohorts.” – Danny Rojas, ALLF Alum, New England ‘18
“I often heard people tell me in PD trainings to “lead with authenticity”. However, these words almost always came from white individuals so it was hard for me to explain to them why it was hard for me, as a Latina, to do this. I always felt like I had to code switch. Although I know that it’ll still be hard for me to fully lead with my identity in all spaces, I think that I’ve pushed myself more after this fellowship to really do this. It’s frustrating to see that many of the things I struggled with as a Latina in college are still things that other students, with similar backgrounds as mine, are still struggling with today. However, using my identity in these spaces has allowed the passion in my voice to come out and I plan to continue to do this, especially in spaces where our community is underrepresented.” – Yoali Salgado, ALLF Alum, Houston ‘19