We are writing to express outrage and deep concern at the current administration of Escuela Serapio López Fajardo, as well as deep support and admiration for those parents, teachers, and community members acting on behalf of positive change and community control.
We are five students completing our master’s degrees in teaching at St. Mary’s College, on the East Coast of the United States. We traveled to Nosara for 6 weeks to complete an international student teaching placement. We came to work in Escuela Serapio López Fajardo as student teachers and volunteers, teaching English, building a playground, and improving the school grounds.
What we observed and experienced while at this school was a vast departure from what we expected in a foreign student teaching placement.
Above all, what seems to be the root of many problems stems from an administration that is outrageously incompetent. In addition to hearing about many unacceptable administrative dealings from various community members, we were witness, and subject to, troubling behavior on the part of administrators.
The principal insisted that we take down swings we had put up as playground equipment, claiming them as a “safety hazard” despite the fact that kids were swinging in healthy and cooperative ways. Property we donated to the school was cut apart and destroyed. The principal also came to speak to us to say we couldn’t put the swings back up. Other conditions and events happened that made us feel threatened and uncomfortable at the hands of the administration, and allowed us to feel how this community must have felt for years.
What disheartened us most about the situation, was how much the stress of living under such school leaders led to internal group difficulties. Under conditions of fear, it is all too easy to “internalize the poison” – to allow bitterness, fear, and frustration to overtake us to the point that fighting for our children’s rights becomes impossible.
What gave us the most hope was seeing the shining examples of community leaders who actually care. Certain community members stood out as beacons of hope and vision.
In solidarity with the community’s vision, we know with certainty that Serapio Lopez School can become a great school. Simple classroom management techniques, as well as the hard work and generosity of the community, can make this possible. While we were building the parquecito, many family members and parents generously donated tools, time, and resources to improving the school grounds.
We thank the community for giving us the gift of such warm acceptance, welcome, and family. It wasn’t an easy six weeks for anyone, but it was worth every second of living with all of you.
We will carry the experiences we have grown from, here, always.
US Student Teacher, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
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