DISTRICT | September 16, 2020
Irma C. Ruiz Elementary School in the Heart of Chicago. Irene C. Hernandez Middle School in Gage Park. Manuel Perez Elementary School in Pilsen. Across the city, the names of our schools remind us of the Hispanic heroes and leaders who have each contributed to make our world safer, fairer, and more inclusive.
This week marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and while our students won’t be able to celebrate in the classrooms, hallways, and auditoriums of these schools, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to be excited about.
CPS staff members such as Mrs. Melania Esparza, a counselor at Sidney Sawyer Elementary School, have already begun to incorporate Hispanic Heritage Month into their virtual instruction. Mrs. Esparza is using her weekly read alouds to teach her students about being proud of their heritage; this week, she read El dia en que descubres quien eres—the day that you discover who you are.
“Being comfortable with our own roots and exploring our own culture is the first step to learning, understanding, and accepting others,” said Ms. Esparza. “Because Hispanic Heritage Month is virtual this year, I’m able to share these ideas with the entire school rather than just focusing on a few grades.”
The past year has been defined by Hispanic students making incredible strides in the classroom and beyond. Just a few weeks ago, the district announced that its highest-ever graduation rate was driven by their improvements. Additionally, new research showed that a majority of CPS English learners were developing English proficiency by eighth grade and meeting or exceeding the academic progress of their peers.
These successes are a testament to the hard work of Hispanic communities all across the city. To build on this growth, the district continues to invest in dual language programming, a bilingual educator pipeline, and amplifying parent voices through its Multilingual Parent Committee and Bilingual Advisory Council.
Throughout the month, the district will be sharing the ways our schools are creatively celebrating the culture and accomplishments of our Hispanic students on our social media channels and right here on our blog.
Even though this month is taking place during an extremely challenging time, it reminds us that our Hispanic students are incredible, and, with the right support, the next Mariano Azuela, Ruben Salazar, or Felicitas Mendez might just be a CPS student.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!