Grant Elementary is the home of City of God church. Some neighbors are not pleased. (Photo courtesy SMMUSD)

Marina Andalon
Daily Press Staff Writer

At the Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District, Board of Education meeting on September 13 the Board recognized National Hispanic/ Latino Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an official celebration of American citizens whose ancestry can be tracked back to Spain, Mexico, Central and South America.
Officially, National Hispanic/ Latino Heritage Month is recognized from September 15 through October 15.
Last month, Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati presented his three-prong approach and within that he requested teachers incorporate social justice and diversity within their lesson plans. Grant Elementary Literacy Coach Rachel Mock, and 4th and 5th grade teacher Tara Warren did just that.
Grant Elementary staff wanted to not only celebrate student thinking but also wanted to have students examine diversity and social justice through the lesson plans. They support the constant contribution to the district that is made from the Hispanic/Latino community and wanted to show their gratitude.
Mock explained, over the past three weeks, 30 students have learned about different Hispanic leaders.
“The students learned and observed how to read and understand complex text through two different lenses. Fourth graders looked through the lens of change generates additional change,” said Mock. “While the fifth graders look through the lens of power has the ability to influence.”
Both classes read the same biographies but were collecting different data. The objective was that the students would read and learn about social justice, diversity and the struggles and obstacles many Hispanic figures faced. The lens was meant to help students determine what evidence was relevant to share with the BOE.
“Not only did the students master the objective and standards, they taught us a thing or two about these figures,” said Mock.
Eight students attended the meeting and presented the Board with a brief presentation about their specific Hispanic figure. Students researched and presented information about figures like Ellen Ochoa, first Hispanic woman to ever go into space, Roberto Clemente, baseball player and humanitarian as well as Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo and many more.
Throughout each presentation the Board seemed to be very impressed with the students and the lesson plan. The teachers were also acknowledged for being creative with the lesson plan and for celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.