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Making Little Ripples in 2013

It’s been about 18 months since I joined the i-ACT team as an Expert Teacher Advisor and although I know there is much work to be done in the coming new year, I find myself like many others reflecting on this historic year and the amazing journey I’m on – making Little Ripples.  These ripples are reaching all the way to the children in the Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.  Each moment was unique and powerful.  Each was an important step in my personal journey towards making Little Ripples.

2013 for me started out with co-facilitating our first Expert Teacher Advisor Symposium.  Loyola Marymount University could not have been a more perfect setting for such a powerful three days in February.  My alma mater was founded on social justice principles and where I first learned about Paolo Freire, critical pedagogy, and Reggio Emilia.  These were the very educational philosophies we looked at to inspire our Little Ripples journey.  It was during our first symposium that the i-ACT team identified our first set of teachers who would go to the camps and train the Darfuri teachers during i-ACT 16.   It was our first of many milestones towards the opening of the school, which occurred this August.  Now as we prepare for our third symposium, I am anxiously excited about helping the teachers who will go on the next trip.  The team leaves for i-ACT 18 in one month!

Throughout my 23 year teaching career I’ve celebrated many “Teacher Appreciation Days”.  This year, I wanted to recognize and acknowledge the Darfuri Little Ripples teachers and provide a space for my fellow teacher friends to  learn more about these amazing young women.  In May, I hosted the first “Teachers for Teachers” event at my home.  It was a day dedicated to thanking the teachers in my life and remembering that we, as teachers, have so much in common with the Darfuri teachers.  It was also a day to celebrate Jocelyn and Melissa and wish them luck on their first trip to the camps as teacher trainers.  My sense was that on that day everyone secretly wanted to be in their shoes – to travel to Chad to train the teachers and open the school.  I found myself imagining being there too – it’s something I think about often…I want to go to Chad.  Maybe this year I will.

This Fall, while visiting Washington D.C. and presenting at NAEYC, I met with the staff and teachers at CommuniKids in Falls Church and instantly felt their deep desire to be a part of Little Ripples.  After sharing an overview of a their fundraising initiatives (which resulted in the purchase of multiple Little Ripples Boxes), the Director and Assistant Director invited me to facilitate planning the “Little Ripples Garden Project”.   I jumped at this chance to take a Professional Development Day with the CommuniKids team to the next level.  Through small group discussions, collaborative planning, and a lot of creative thinking, we began to outline a curriculum that will tap into the immediate environment in the camps.  A school garden at CommuniKids will also be grown to further explore and develop the curriculum.  By sharing best practices, curriculum, and teaching strategies, both schools will enjoy a true collaboration!  Bravo Communikids teachers for seizing the moment and making Little Ripples!

One of my last stops on that trip to Washington D.C. was to the Kennedy grave sites. While the nation commemorated the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, I ventured over to his brother’s grave and noticed a quote etched in stone.  The quote, which has the words “little ripples” by Robert F. Kennedy made me stop in my tracks.  Reading it silently reaffirmed for me that I have been able to make a difference and also help others make Little Ripples.  As I say farewell to this year, I am filled with hope and anticipation for  the next chapter of my journey.  Please join me in making your Little Ripples in 2014.

Jocelyn and I at Expert Teacher Advisor Symposium I in February 2013. Photo: i-ACT.

Expert Teacher Advisor Symposium I. Photo: i-ACT.

Expert Teacher Advisor Symposium I. Photo: i-ACT.

Teachers for Teachers Event at my house in May 2013. Photo: i-ACT.

Goodies for the Teachers for Teachers Event at my house in May 2013. Photo: i-ACT.

Teachers for Teachers Event at my house in May 2013. Photo: i-ACT.

Teachers for Teachers Event at my house in May 2013. Photo: i-ACT.

Teachers for Teachers Event at my house in May 2013. Photo: i-ACT.

Co-facilitating the "Little Ripples Garden Project" at CommuniKids. Photo: i-ACT.

Co-facilitating the "Little Ripples Garden Project" at CommuniKids. Photo: i-ACT.

Planning the "Little Ripples Garden Project" at CommuniKids. Photo: i-ACT.

Me with the CommuniKids teachers. Photo: i-ACT.

Robert F Kennedy memorial. Photo: i-ACT.

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Irma earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, a Bilingual Elementary Credential, and a Masters of Arts in Multicultural Education from Loyola Marymount University (LMU). She is the Founder and Director of My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids, a Spanish language program for children ages 2-10 that runs after school, during school breaks (winter, spring and summer), and in local businesses across the South Bay such as Mattel and Equinox. She has been an adjunct professor at LMU School of Education and Field Work Supervisor for LMU Bilingual and General Education Student Teachers. Irma has been involved in elementary school education since 1991. Currently, she teaches Kindergarden at Washington Elementary (Redondo Beach Unified School District) where she launched the Dual Immersion Spanish Program. Irma is a mom of three who attend 2nd, 4th, and 6th grade.


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