This is the Time! Make a Difference
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright
Our educational system is one in disarray. School boards
that murk for power, and politicians that swarm for control
of the administrative sphere. Principals in the middle of
the haywire. Every major component seems to look out for its
self-centered interests. This is the time to make a difference!
When I was a little kid, there was this voice that followed
me everywhere. It repeatedly called out, "You gotta make
a difference". As an English as a Second Language teacher
in New York City from 1988 to 1991, my classes saw many recently-arrived
high school students from such Latin American countries as
El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico,
Panama, Colombia and Puerto Rico – many of these immigrants
with barely one, perhaps two years of residence in the United
States. When I first received the course syllabi for these
so-called “ESL” tenth-grade classes, I would notice Hemingway,
Poe and Shakespeare among the group of “canon” writers to
be read during the semester; I was, of course, enthusiastic
and quite elated about beginning the semester engaged with
such amazing authors and works. But after an intensive month
of Romeo and Juliet, I quickly understood, with some initial
disillusionment, that I had a major predicament on my hands.
Try as they might, my students continued to struggle to connect
with the plight of the star-crossed lovers, because their
own social, cultural and personal backgrounds were so far
removed from the lives of the Montagues and Capulets of Verona.
Yet, my students’ hunger to learn was palpable. I had to find
a way to bridge the gap. I needed to find a way to make a
difference in their lives.
I am not the only who has looked for alternatives. This is
the time! Jaime Escalante and Coach Karter were not only Hollywood
characters but teachers who made a difference by challenging
the system and taking the Lilliputians of the Department of
Education to grade school. When I embarked on a journey to
bridge the gap by integrating cuturally relevant texts in
the mainstream English classroom, I knew that the system would
not take my vision lightly. After a dozen years after of roaming
different educational systems, I have come to understand that
every educator has the potential to make a difference in the
life of a child, no matter what! This is the time! Make a
difference! Oon't take your seeds of success for granted.
You can do it!