From the Superintendent: Hispanic Heritage Month and Beyond: Honoring Students of All Races and Cultures Every Day

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As we enjoy the cool weather and bright colors of autumn, take a few minutes to reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15 and runs through October 15. First celebrated in 1968, this month commemorates the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, el Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Belize and my own home country of Chile also celebrate independence days at this time of year.

You may have heard me talk about the educational system in Chile. What I saw and experienced there galvanized my passion to provide “a premier education for all” in this district. Sadly, the inequality that characterizes many Latin American countries is becoming normal in this country too. We cannot let unequal economic or social circumstances result in unequal education for the young people of SPPS.

A special month of celebrations provides us with all kinds of opportunities to explore. Our own Brad Ollmann, general and vocal music specialist at St. Anthony Park Elementary, is welcoming a group of 17 students and five adults from the private music school, Collegium Musicum, to the Twin Cities through October 5. Located in  Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, Collegium Musicum is particularly known for producing outstanding pianists. 

Tour planning began a year ago with the support of Alberto Fierro, the Mexican Consulate of St. Paul. Over the course of the tour, the Mexican group has performed a total of six concerts for approximately 3,000 people. Last week they performed at both Saint Anthony Park and at 360 Colborne, where Consul Fierro announced the donation of Mexican textbooks to our district.

Our own Multicultural Resource Center has many materials to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, as does the NEA. But it’s important to honor students of all races and cultures every day. Learning about our students’ families and ethnicities enriches our teaching and our classrooms. Many SPPS teachers have used Fund for Teachers grants to travel to Latin American and African countries, as well as Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other faraway places from which SPPS students and families have traveled to Saint Paul.

Please join with me, during Hispanic Heritage Month and every month, in celebrating the breathtaking and energizing diversity of our students and our schools.

Your very proud superintendent

 

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Valeria Silva