Commentary: Teachers play an integral role in shaping strong, vibrant families and communities through their ongoing work of shaping the leaders of the future. But the COVID-19 pandemic showed the growing inequality found in our education system as students lost access to many essential services and supports that were offered only through schools.
Teaching a student without actually looking at them is more complicated than it seems. I had some students that were tardy, some had their cameras off most of the time, not knowing if they were there, or they were safe–and some students were just absent.
However, we continue to applaud the decisive strategy by Governor Luján Grisham that was critical in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and deterred enormous viral spikes that would have had a much bigger impact on our communities’ health, wellbeing, and overall economic stability.
But as our state begins to walk the path to economic recovery, while allowing students back into our classrooms, there is a huge need to fill in the educational gaps that were exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.
Luckily, the NM Dream Team is spearheading an effort to support teachers and education professionals in creating a space to reimagine our education system and how it can best serve students who have been historically marginalized in our school system. This space is their annual Educators’ Summit.
This year, the NM Dream Team will virtually host their 6th Educators Summit–a time for people who care about New Mexico's education to come together to learn about, develop and discuss how we work together to ensure all NM students including undocumented and DACAmented receive the education they deserve. Throuhgout this summit, we will be provided with issue based workshops to bring awareness to the distinct barriers undocumented students face beyond their immigration status; such as being people of color, low income status, first generation, LGBTQ+, etc. And a better understanding of how all of these factors compound the disparities students face through their academic journey.
The 6th Educators’ Summit will uplift student voices, provide educators with an opportunity to hear directly from students, other educators and on-the-ground community members about what needs to be done to create an education system that serves all students and prepares them to thrive.
Now that our teachers across the state have been prioritized to receive their vaccinations, I think it's really important to be back in school, but most importantly back to providing the much needed resources our students need to succeed. I want to be able to look at my students and continue to help their families in these hard circumstances by being there for them and show our students that we will get through these difficult times.
We have made it a long way and we can continue to protect our students and make sure they are set up for success by implementing the knowledge acquired in the 6th Educators’ Summit. We need to continue to hear our students and pay attention to their educational needs and how they feel about these changes, and school environments.
Please join me in being part of the Educators' Summit by registering here: bit.ly/EducatorsSummit
Brenda Ornelas is a 4th grade teacher in Albuquerque, NM and a supporter of the NM Dream Team.