826 Valencia is honored to announce the February recipients of our Teacher of the Month Award, Ms. Linda Lathrop and Ms. Pam Lucker of Peralta Elementary! Using their impressive twenty-five years of combined teaching experience, this innovative team has crafted a year-long curriculum to help young learners answer the question, “How can I communicate more powerfully?” Students from Ms. Lathrop’s fifth grade class pair with students from Ms. Lucker’s first grade class, and together these “literary buddies” learn how to express their inner lives through artistic line work and descriptive language.
Already, students are starting to see how their experiences in the classroom can relate to their larger world. One fifth grader reflects, “When we teach the buddies, they are all over the place and not paying attention. That gives us a reminder of how hard it is for the teachers.” Likewise, younger students benefit from having a mentor who is closer in age, saying, “It was fun and challenging to meet their expectations. The fifth graders made sure we were doing the right thing.” Ms. Lathrop and Ms. Lucker also bring in artists and writers to mentor all of the students, further forging bonds and creating learning opportunities that may have gone otherwise unrealized.
Previously silent voices have found an audience in the collective classrooms of the teaching duo. Before their creative guidance, one courageous student rarely spoke of her struggle against childhood cancer. Now, she proudly displays her visual and literary art. “You have to really feel your emotions,” she observes. “Some parts were hard to write about, but it felt good to get it out of my system.” Parents enthusiastically tell us how their students, too, have learned to portray powerful sentiments—anger, fear, and isolation; but also love, friendship, and success.
“It’s like we are able to take the tops off their heads and see what is going on in their minds,” muses Ms. Lucker. “You don’t think about first graders having such profound thoughts, but they really do.” At the end of the year, Ms. Lathrop and Ms. Lucker honor their students’ work in an Authors Showcase, and then immortalize the works in their very own magazine, The Literarier. Now, 826 Valencia would like to show our wholehearted appreciation for Ms. Lathrop and Ms. Lucker’s dedication to cultivating their students’ creative minds. Thank you both!
Read about our Teacher of the Month program.