Bringing Latin America to Georgia’s K-12 Schools
The mission of the K-12 Service and Education Initiative at LACSI is to expand on its longstanding educational outreach commitments with K-12 educators and students at the local and state level. LACSI serves as a resource to K-12 educators working to meet Georgia Performance Standards as they relate to Latin American content in the social, natural, and life sciences. This initiative focuses on the provision of LACSI support that will allow Georgia’s educators to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of the Latin American and Caribbean region and effectively work with Latino students and their parents. Elements of this initiative include:
- Developing workshops and trainings focused on helping K-12 educators meet performance standards as they relate to Latin America. To date LACSI has carried out summer workshops in Latin American geography, history, US-Mexican relations, and Latin American ethnobotany through the Institute’s on-campus Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden;
- Assisting K-12 educators in developing Latin American cultural programming. LACSI has a long history of collaborating with local teachers to bring music and dance ensembles from throughout Latin America to Athens area public schools. Often working with Latin American consulates located in Atlanta, LACSI promotes knowledge of the region through cultural presentations at local public schools;
- Providing support to local school districts in need of bilingual Spanish-English translators for parent-teacher conferences and providing Spanish instruction free of charge to educators and students;
- Providing to K-12 educators a database of Latin Americanist faculty at the University of Georgia willing to visit classrooms to discuss instructional components of performance standards related to Latin America for which they have expertise;
- Collaborating with K-12 educators to develop proposals to funding agencies that enhance instruction on Latin American topics or that support academic achievement for Latino/a students.
- LACSI teamed with the Instituto de Mexico in 2012 to bring Chicahua Yolotli, an Aztec dance troupe, to the students of Cleveland Road, Timothy Road, and Whitehead Road Elementary Schools during Hispanic Heritage Month. Chicahua Yolotli, Incatepec, and Ballet Folklórico Danceando also provided music during the LACSI 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month Open House—an annual event open to the entire community.
- In 2013, with the support of the Instituto de Mexico, LACSI was able to bring Chicahua Yolotli back to visit students at Fowler Drive, Timothy Road, and South Jackson Elementary Schools. More than 1,500 students and teachers were exposed to the group’s traditional Aztec dance. Following the assemblies, Chicahua Yolotli also performed for the Athens community at our LACSI Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta.
- For over a decade LACSI has offered Spanish and Portuguese instruction free of charge to the general public. The Spanish Mesa de Conversación and Portuguese Mesa Portuguesa meet once a week in the LACSI building (La Casa Amarilla).
What We Could Implement with Support:
- Latin American Studies Workshops for Georgia’s K-12 Teachers
With nearly 50 core Latin Americanist faculty and over 100 affiliate faculty representing all of UGA’s 15 colleges and professional schools, LACSI is well placed to provide K-12 educators of Georgia with summer workshops focused on enhancing their ability to provide Latin American content instruction. Latin American content is well represented in the Georgia Performance Standards for grades 5-8, and high school in world geography and world history.
- Latin American Culture and Music for Georgia’s Schools
Every year during Hispanic Heritage Month, LACSI receives queries from local schools interested carrying out cultural events involving Latin American musicians and dancers. Given the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from Georgia’s K-12 administrators, teachers, and students, during past cultural events, LACSI would like to team with schools on an annual basis—providing the state’s children with the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the great cultural diversity of Latin America on display through the performing arts.
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