California Educator

December/January 2019

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Students' quotes are made into posters. Why? "Wisdom, despite the age of the mind, should be shared," says Beshears. language of Arabic, but my 33 eager little minds were hungry for more," he says. "After completing the first all-Arabic play at my school — and in any public school that I am aware of — we decided to focus on inquiry to understand the parallel immi- grant experiences of the Arabic-speaking worlds and my own mostly immigrant Latino families." This year, Beshears is bringing a new facet to his GATE c l a s s r o o m : c o n c e p t u a l a r t t o p r o - mote creativity. Students suggest their i n t e r p re t a t i o n s of f a m o u s a r tw o rk s and creat e pieces of th eir own , with Beshears asking probing questions that reveal the roots of the work, much of it personal and emotional. "It's this really intimate setting of being honest," he says. Beshears is especially proud of the learning community he's been a part of building and nurturing in the San Bernardino area, called Salinas and Coyotes: Instruction in Poetry and Prose (SCIPP). What began as a simple after-school class, led by Masters of Fine Arts graduate students and professors of poetry and creative writing, has now grown to become a legitimate CSUSB course where prospective teachers study teaching the creative child, which includes a service learning component tutoring students. Every Friday, SCIPP meets as a true learning community, tutoring K-12 students in a variety of educational and enrich- ment activities, from video game design to cooking. Their parents meet with educators to discuss hot-button issues in education and learn how to use this knowledge to advocate for their children and themselves. "Formerly shy parents now not only better understand teaching dynamics in the classroom, but express agency that is rocking the boat in the Inland Empire. We put true meaning to the words learning community, extended family and democracy," he says. "rough it all, SBTA was there for me and, by extension, the kids, parents, tutors and professors that I call family." Beshears says he wants to use the platform of winning a national award to spotlight the beauty of his parent learning community and showcase some of the great w ork that i s b eing don e in hi s home of the Inland Empire. But mostly, he hopes that his fellow educators who struggle day in and day out to do the right thing are inspired to see a fellow soldier in the movement and recognize some of themselves in his story. Admitting that some days even he gets beat down, Beshears says the award will serve as a reminder of what he's been able to accomplish and an inspiration for all that's left. "We have so much potential, and it's already being realized, so how do we tap into that?" he asks. "As a union, we are the biggest laboratory of ideas in the nation. How do we access that library of ideas in all our classrooms? How do we uplift and inspire each other? How do we support innovation in education?" The NEA Foundation's Awards for Teaching Excellence recognize educators who shine in their schools, commu- nities, and their own learning. For more information, visit "Our kids are not simply vessels of knowledge; they are the creators of curricular content." 47 D E C E M B E R 2 019 / J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 0

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