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Posted: September 20, 2019

Mi Familia/My Family

In her weekly message, Superintendent Reedy writes about her many families.

Mi Familia/My Family is the theme of an essay contest sponsored by the APS Office of Equity and Engagement during Hispanic Heritage Month. Students of all ages and from every background are encouraged to reflect on the role family has played in their own heritage.

That got me thinking about my family, or should I say my many families.

There is the immediate family of my childhood: my loving mother and grandparents who raised me. And, of course, the caring and supportive family of my adulthood, which grew by one this summer with the birth of my first grandchild. These are the most precious people in my life, the people who help shape my character, values, beliefs, and identity.

If that is the definition of family, then I belong to many more. We all do. Church families. Work families. Neighborhood families. And school families.

Our schools – our teachers, administrators, and staff – play a key role in the development, growth, and identity of our students – just as their families do. And like their parents, grandparents, and siblings, we should help our students develop a connection to their culture and history. And not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, African American History Month, National Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, or LGBTQ Pride Month.

It’s wonderful to come together to celebrate and learn during these designated months, just as we plan to do on Oct. 4 at Albuquerque High School for a Hispanic Heritage Celebration (hope you can join us). But appreciation for the diverse history and culture of all of our students – and our employees, too – should be infused in our teaching, attitudes, and behavior every day, all year.

Like any good family, we want to provide our students with a sense of belonging, where they can feel secure, supported, accepted, included.  

That is exactly what they are doing at Washington Middle School, where black and white photographs of every single student – all 450 of them – line the hallway walls. In each of these pictures, students are holding empowerment and self-love statements in both English and Spanish (Washington is a dual language school):

  • I Am Strong
  • I Am Beautiful
  • I Am Fun, Unique, Bilingual, Kind, Brave, Different.

Principal Angela Rodriguez, with the help of the school’s yearbook staff, took the pictures and hung them on the school’s walls along with “I Am” poems written by each student. “It is about bringing together our school community, and helping our students see themselves in a positive light. The faces lining our halls remind us, and them, who they are and why we are there,” Angela explained.

Now if that doesn’t sound like a family, I don’t know what does. Looking at all those smiling faces reminds me of the hallways and stairwells of so many homes that are covered with family photographs and memories, of personal history and culture.

Just as our schools serve as family for our students, they also serve as family for those who work in them, or in support of them.

We all belong to that family, the APS family. It is a strong family, though not without its struggles or differences. And it is a diverse family with its own culture and history.

I am so glad you are part of this wonderful family, my family. You add value. You matter. You belong.