Angel’s Gate were the first folks that saw the potential in me when I was laid off and staring at a ceiling all day in the depths that were the winter of 2020. For that I’ll be forever grateful. They put me to work in February of 2021 with -nine- classrooms a week; about 280 students total. I’d had very little experience teaching little ones up to this point and there were certainly some growing pains, but I learned quickly how to adapt my lessons and approach to meet the needs of 8-10 year olds. San Pedro boasts the most diverse classrooms I’ve ever seen, which inspired me to create a curriculum that celebrates their various identities -and- contemporary Indigenous artists at the same time.
I’m on my third semester now, and each week we explore a different culture in a new region of the world, while exploring professional artist tools and techniques. We’ve made tile patterns based on the costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians and murals of the Shipibo-Konibo, mansions traced from Freddy Mamani’s architecture, and visual representations of memories inspired by Anansi the Spider, Hmong Story Cloths, and the yarn paintings of Jose Benitez-Sanchez of the Wixárika of Mexico. After two semesters online we went back to the classroom and started yet another big journey, but I’m happy with where we’re at. I’ve added breathing exercises and stretches to get the kids out of their computer screens and into their bodies a little more, but the lessons on cultural literacy and social-emotional learning remain as necessary as ever.