Paula Cole is a teacher who knows how to adapt. She ensures that her students continue getting a strong, inclusive education no matter what changes happen in school or what struggles they face at home. Mrs. Cole is a 1st grade teacher at Emerson Elementary in Minneapolis, MN. Emerson Elementary is a dual Spanish immersion school where most of the students receive free or reduced lunch. Half of her students speak Spanish at home.
Mrs. Cole’s school focuses on Hispanic culture and conversations about different cultures and countries. Recent changes to the curriculum is making it more challenging for students to learn about different cultures in history. “My school recently eliminated the social studies block entirely so now teachers have to try incorporate it during the day,” Mrs. Cole said.
For this upcoming school year, Mrs. Cole needs resources to incorporate her social studies lessons into other subjects. Since many of her students come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, Mrs. Cole sees her role as an educator to include that diversity.
“I help them see and find their place in the world and reach their view of multiculturalism,” she said.
While her first graders come to school eager to learn, they face a lot of problems at home that impact their ability to succeed. Some students lack the resources to do homework. In Minnesota, winters are tough and often her students do not have the appropriate clothing.
“Even their first language isn’t strong,” Mrs. Cole said of her students learning English. “They lack experiential opportunities like public libraries, museums, and zoos. They have a very narrow experience of the world.”
Donations to Mrs. Cole’s class would be giving her students supplies to help fill this gap for students with struggling families. It would also help her students access information they wouldn’t otherwise have, such as how children around the world go to school.
Classroom funds would also help Mrs. Cole focus on teaching instead of supplies. She said purchasing supplies for her classroom never stops.
“Shopping for my classroom is just part of my household shopping list,” she said. “Pencil sharpeners, markers, backpacks. I’m always buying gloves in the winter from dollar stores.”
For the upcoming school year, Mrs. Cole is tackling her supply needs with an active project on her AdoptAClassroom.org page called Multicultural Resources for my Diverse Historians. She is looking for supplies to help empower her students with stories of role models that represent them.
“It is important for children to see different cultures represented in history,” she said. “My students need a social studies library, read-alongs, and resource boxes to be used as part of the learning center rotations during our social studies block.”
She is looking specifically for books with titles that empower girls, and encourage students of color and living in poverty to be as great as they can be.
“I want to teach them to be educated and that they can make a meaningful change in society,” Mrs. Cole said.
Mrs. Cole’s goal with this project is to collect enough resources so her students can see themselves represented in history and believe that they can make a difference.
To find a teacher in your neighborhood, click here.