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Aiming to Raise Standards in Rural Schools Statewide

Classroom_El Lindero de La Petaca school_Emma_Guerra_Teacher_

By Joseph Pummer

On February 26, at 5pm, in the Rosewood Ballroom, the symposium “Gold Stars for Schools in the Campo” will explore the successes of several Mexican educators who have found ways to convince students and their parents that schoolwork is a journey toward careers far beyond their isolated villages.

Following a panel discussion among leading educators in Guanajuato State, the program will break into groups for audience discussions of issues affecting the quality of rural schools, allowing parents of children in these schools to discuss their concerns and experiences. Participation in the two-hour symposium is free and open to the public. The program will be conducted in Spanish with simultaneous translation through individual headsets provided to English speakers for a small fee.

“This gathering provides a rare opportunity for both professional and lay audiences to learn about the mostly unsung successes of very dedicated teachers who overcome the many limitations of one-room schools in poor villages,” Bill Wilkinson, the conference organizer, says. “They are teaching their students to look far beyond [the] life of manual and domestic labor that is the common outlook for these youngsters.”

Among featured presenters will be Emma Guerra, a former teacher at the El Lindero de La Petaca School, who now supervises all rural schools around Dolores Hidalgo.

As the sole teacher for 35 students at grade levels 1–6 in the village’s one-room school, Guerra mobilized students’ mothers and built an impressive level of community and government support. Her efforts established a healthy-meals program for the children, Internet service for the community, a school library staffed by mothers, and a vegetable garden and chicken roost maintained by students. Enjoying the distinctive taste of tostadas made by the school’s mothers, she also worked with them to form a business that markets their products through Via Órganica to the Rosewood Hotel and to stores in San Miguel.

“Señora Guerra achieved an impressive, if not amazing, level of community involvement in the school’s mission,” Wilkinson notes. He says the symposium will highlight the value of such community support as a golden resource for rural educators seeking to keep students focused on the opportunities that an education offers. He also hopes that the audience will take away ideas for identifying resources available through government and nongovernmental organizations. And he believes every attendee will develop a deeper appreciation of the multiple roles that teachers in rural schools play as leaders in the communities of the campo.

The major sponsor of “Gold Stars for Schools in the Campo” is IENTEC, an Internet service provider. The Rosewood Hotel is providing its ballroom without charge to program organizers. Several individuals also have made donations to cover expenses for the program. Those attendees who want to make a donation will be asked to contribute to a fund to provide Internet service to rural schools.



Gold Stars for Schools in the Campo

Mon, Feb 26, 5pm

Rosewood Ballroom

Nemesio Diez 11, Centro




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