The bus pulled into Cesar Chavez High School, a school that serves a diverse and low income student population. The PenPal Schools team was here to listen to the voices of students and teachers in their natural setting. “Despite economic obstacles,” says Mark Danforth, “students have been able to excel, which has helped build a sense of pride in their community, both in and outside of school.”
Educators were concerned with how schools could build up a stronger sense of community. “What can schools do to attract more parents, to make that community stronger?” asked one teacher, and added, “students came up with a lot more creative ideas than the teachers did.” In the words of one age-old African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” The teachers and students at Cesar Chavez realized that in order for students to have an excellent education, they needed a nurturing environment outside of school as well as in school. By having parents play a greater role in the process of formally educating a child, the teachers and administrators of Cesar Chavez planned to help their students achieve ever greater goals.
The PenPal Schools team was curious to learn about the stance on global education at Cesar Chavez. “Being able to have the opportunity to participate in PenPal Schools,” said one teacher, “we’re actually going to be giving you that global perspective because you’ll be communicating with people around the world.”
As the day with wound to a close, the PenPal Schools team had the students and teachers sign the blue school bus and then waved farewell, thanking all those gathered for a very warm reception. The team clambered aboard the bus, the engine roared to life, and the PenPal Schools team drove out of the parking lot of Cesar Chavez High School. As they began the road to New Orleans, Louisiana, the team reflected on the experiences of the day. How can schools strengthen local and global community ties? How can online educational tools best provide for the needs of students and teachers? What kind of things would they learn in New Orleans?