Trip to Africa provides insight into student body for Las Américas leaders

A “selfie” taken by Las Americas Newcomers School Principal Marie Moreno with some Ugandan students.

It’s been said that to really understand someone else, you first have to walk a mile in their shoes. That’s why Principal Marie Moreno went on a trip to Africa over Spring Break with one of her campus administrators.

Moreno, who traveled to Uganda and Kenya with test coordinator Rachel Barrios, is now hoping to parlay the lessons she learned overseas into better experiences for the students and parents she serves at Las Américas Newcomer School.

“We hear stories from our children every day (about what their lives were like before coming to America),” said Moreno. “But it’s different when we put ourselves in their environment. We had the experience of living in their world. Giving up all the amenities we take for granted only makes me appreciate our children even more.”

Moreno and Barrios made the trip after being invited to provide professional development to Ugandan schools in the city of Jinja by Lea Cox, director for the Elevare Education Centre.

“It was a challenge to prepare,” said Moreno. “Here, we have technology at our fingertips, along with a variety of manipulatives to stimulate learning. But there, we had to settle for a simple chalkboard and recycled paper to make flash cards and fold-ables. The class sizes range from 35 to 80 students, and children are sitting on benches with little to no tools for learning. Teachers use a small chalk board to write as many notes they can. At the end of the training, teachers were only able to take home a small pack of markers, a ruler, and a Sharpie, and yet, they were so grateful for their gifts.”

Moreno said the teachers learned so much from the visit that they have already asked for a follow-up training. She and Barrios also plan to travel to Central America next spring in the hopes of learning more about the children they serve from there.

Las Américas currently enrolls students from 32 different countries.

3 thoughts on “Trip to Africa provides insight into student body for Las Américas leaders

  1. Dr. Jesse Jai McNeil, Jr.

    It is wonderful to know about a principal and test coordinator that are courageous enough and caring enough to visit far away places in order to become more student-centered. It shows how deeply they care about the education of their students and their commitment to continuous professional growth. I know administrators and teachers who won’t visit their own school neighborhoods. Bravo Marie Moreno and Rachel Barrios.

    — Jesse Jai McNeil, Jr., Ed.D.

  2. Joseph Alva

    Keep up the great work you are doing at Jane Long for our immigrant and refugee students.

  3. Berlinda Mojica

    This is a true testament to the value of your work with Las Americas. I hope your passion continues to push you through the once imaginable.

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