by Becca Hurliman
Photos are starting to come into the office: pictures of chunky babies held in arms covered with tattoos, a number of stoic faces and shy smiles along with the occasional grin, the blurred images of an evening English class taking place on the front steps of the office, beautiful rental houses where our students work, and beautiful gowns worn on the 15th birthday of the neighbors’ daughter.
These photos are being used in the Story Learning Project, a literacy program led by Sarah Littlefield, an AM board member. Sarah is teaching literacy through storytelling, by way of collecting photos from students’ lives, discussing the images in Spanish, and writing their stories in English. At their final stage, these stories and photos will be sent back to Potrero in book form to be given out to the students.
This photo is Angela’s. Pictured are her husband and youngest child, Kristel, a 4 month old baby girl. The baby is happy, Angela says. She laughs a lot. When Angela is busy in English class, Angela’s oldest daughter, Tati, and her friends tend to Kristel. They ooh and ahh over her, but they also make crazy faces, and Kristel laughs that silly laugh that babies have. Tati’s friend says, “She looks more like Bianca (the middle sister), they both have round faces. Yours is thinner,” Tati shrugs.
Angela and her husband married 12 years ago. Angela’s husband is an artist, and Tati has inherited his talent for drawing. Tatiana recently graduated from 6th grade and now attends colegio. Bianca is a regular English class attendee, and just this week she completed another attendance card (marking 25 classes attended). As a reward for completing attendance cards, kids get a premio from the prize box. Bianca picked out a toucan puppet.
Angela’s story, among others, will be featured in this year’s book. When the books arrive a few months from now it’s certain that both classroom time and students’ free time will be spent flipping through the pages, reading though their own stories – in English.