This Election has Bruised our Students, We Must Facilitate the Healing Process

The recent presidential election has caused immense heartache and tremendous anxiety for many of us and the families we serve. The morning after the election I felt unlike my normal self. Most days I am excited and ready to get to work, but on Wednesday, I felt somber and sad. Perhaps it was the frustration of realizing our biggest nightmare as a country had become a reality or it was thinking about the students at my elementary school and wondering how much they knew and how they felt. I could not take away the negative cloud reigning over my head. As I was about to reach my destination, a clip came up on the radio of one of Obama’s many inspiring speeches and immediately I remembered a quote I had saved from him in my iPhone notes for when I felt beat. It reads, “The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”

Immediately, I felt an urgency to do exactly that, press on. The reality is that we will all need to press on. The results were not in our favor, but if there is any advice we should take from our current fearless leader is that Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”  

Somehow thinking about President Obama’s words has been the encouragement I needed to take on this first day after the election. There is no time to feel sorry for our country’s questionable choices. Instead we must face the reality with courage and focus on those who matter most: our students.

I made it a point to spend some time out in the playground to enjoy the presence and energy of our students. I am a big believer that a child’s innocence is the best remedy for a bad day, but today that was not the case. As soon as I reached a group of 4th graders, I heard them talking about the newly elected president and about how mad they were because he wanted to “kick out” their parents. I was not ready for that kind of conversation, but immediately, I interjected and found myself doing the best I could to refocus their attention on how much they were cared for and loved. It was that conversation that led me to spend a portion of my day seeking resources that I could share with our teachers to provide our students the space to not only speak their minds, but also heal from the grief this election caused them.

Below are a few resources I would recommend any educator to explore. These will not change the outcome of our new reality but they will at least open a door for us to better serve our children.

  •   Teaching ToleranceThese resources will help students recognize and respond to bias.
  •   Newsela – This site is making their Pro Resources bank available and FREE to all teachers until January to ensure teachers have access to endless articles and opinions pieces that can also support this process of exploring what has happened.
  •   Community Circle LPA shared  lesson plan for an election processing community circle to create a space for conversation in your classroom.

The anxiety, the fear, and the disappointment is real but now more than ever, we must stand together in unity. So press on. Be the change. Today more than ever our children need us to organize, stay strong and keep fighting for what’s right.

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Alma Renteria

Alma Renteria

Alma-Delia Renteria is a proud product of Lynwood schools. After graduating UC Riverside, with a B.A. in English and a year earlier than anticipated, she decided to commit her “gap year” to City Year. After City Year Los Angeles, Alma went on to purse a teaching career with Teach For America Los Angeles. Upon joining TFA, Alma began her education career as a middle school teacher. It was while teaching that she realized the need to do her part to help serve the community she grew up in and decided to run for office, getting elected to the Lynwood School Board at only 23 years old. Alma completed her first Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University and a 2nd Masters in Educational Leadership along with her Admin Credential at Concordia University. She was appointed by the Speaker to the Instructional Quality Commission and re-elected to the Lynwood School Board in 2018. She currently serves as the Principal at a local elementary school in Pico Rivera, where she hopes to demonstrate that magic is possible when thee right people are given opportunities to lead.

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