Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at LEAD Public Schools means honoring the culture and heritage of many of our students and staff. Every year from September 15 to October 15, we recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans through lessons, activities, events and spotlights.
We’re wrapping up Hispanic Heritage Month with a Q&A from Marta Sanchez, Family and Community Engagement Coordinator at LEAD Southeast Middle.
Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you personally?
Marta: “I see Hispanic Heritage Month as a time for people to reflect upon the vibrant historical cultural, social influence of Hispanic and Latinx people within the U.S. and throughout the world. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of year when we can reflect about how our traditions have influenced and shaped other cultures and places. There’s so much that Hispanic and Latinx people do here (and everywhere) that is not recognized or valued as much as other cultures or other groups of people. Often, we are not highlighted as much as other ethnic influences in America but this month is always a reminder of where we came from and how beautiful our culture is. During this time of year we can recognize and reflect on the fact that Hispanic and Latinx culture is something we should be proud of.”
Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to the families and students we serve?
Marta: “Students and families take pride in the Hispanic Heritage month by volunteering to bring food, participate and tell part of their stories through dances and speaking about their culture. Students and families have opportunities at LEAD to share who they are and showcase where they come from. Throughout the month students learn about Hispanic Heritage and share personal experiences with their classmates. Our families feel supported and seen when they see that students are able to tell family stories that root them in their culture and also give them a strong foundation upon which to build their futures.”
Q: How does LEAD make sure Hispanic families feel seen and heard?
Marta: “LEAD makes our families feel heard and seen by celebrating the families culture and stories. Our students are able to speak about their culture through creating art in class, music during lunch, and performances during school hours. In addition to celebrating Hispanic Heritage month every year, we make sure our families understand what is going on at our campus by translating documents for them to read or interpret during presentations and meetings. As a latina I appreciate being spoken to in my language and we want families to feel that same way, seen, heard, and feeling comfortable speaking in their native language.”
Q: LSEM is particularly diverse. Can you speak to the different Hispanic nationalities we have at LSEM and how they are unique?
Marta: “This year Hispanic/Latino students at LEAD Southeast Middle represent 51% of our student population. This percentage includes Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Dominican Republic. What makes us unique is the way we present ourselves and represent our native countries. We are unique in the way we express ourselves about our food. We wear our native clothing with such pride that it reminds others of the beautiful culture they are part of. Most of all what makes us unique is that we can all communicate in the same language.”
Q: Why is it important that we all recognize and celebrate Hispanic and all cultures?
Marta: “Sharing of cultures in school settings teaches children to feel good about who they are, and helps their peers and staff members learn to value cultural differences. It gives space for our students to feel appreciated and respected. Allows our students to feel that LEAD Southeast Middle is a home away from home.”