Summit educates teachers on how to support, mentor DACA students | KOB 4
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Summit educates teachers on how to support, mentor DACA students

Joy Wang
April 21, 2018 10:22 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Typically, educators are the ones teaching students.

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But on Saturday, dozens of teachers were the ones learning at a seminar organized by the New Mexico Dream Team, where DACA students taught their instructors how to be more supportive.

"Just look back at a time when you were facing hardship and someone really stepped out of their comfort zone and out of their job to help you, and how that made a difference to you," said Selene Vences, an education equity organizer.

At the summit, the question was raised: What if educators weren't just teachers, but also mentors and supporters?

To meet that end, the roles were temporarily reversed; students became teachers to provide an idea of the hardships that DACA students may face, and how their instructors can help.

"It makes them better educators in the sense that they have the adequate tools and resources that they need to help a student overcome their barriers, and help them gain academic resilience so they can finish school," Vences said.

Those barriers, summit organizers said, impede some DACA students from achieving access to mental health services, scholarships and other tools outside the classroom.

Cristyn Elder, an assistant professor at UNM, said the overarching goal is to move beyond a sanctuary campus to something more accommodating.

"A dream campus," Elder said. "Where we're offering support and a safe environment for immigrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, workers, students of color."

Elder, a six-year employee at the university, said events like Saturday's summit shed light on what DACA students need to be productive members of society. 

"If a student has to travel a long way in order to get that medical care that they might find locally, you have to take into consideration why that student might be absent from class or might have a number of absences from class," she said. "It can be simple things like that."

Overall, they say they were working to make sure school isn't just a place of learning, but also a safe space to help them become productive members of society.

"Really, hearing undocumented students' stories," Elder said. "That's number one, is hearing their narratives and their stories and why they're here in the United States, and why they're here to stay."

 

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Joy Wang

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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