This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.
As Argentinians around the globe celebrate Día de la Independencia (Independence Day – July 9, 1816), we heard from ITW David Speer Academy teacher, Nick Sorrentino about why representation matters.
Nick Sorrentino started his education career at Noble in 2017 and just finished his 4th year at ITW Speer Academy. He is the 10th Grade World History Teacher, 10th Grade Level Lead, and Rugby Coach at ITW Speer Academy. We were able to remotely receive Sorrentino’s thoughts and responses about how he incorporates and educates students about Latinx cultures in his World History class, and why representation matters to him, especially at Speer Academy.
ITW Speer Academy
JS: What is your ethnicity?
JS: How did your experiences as a Latinx student influence you to become a Latinx teacher and/or incorporate more Latinx culture into your curriculum?
NS: I grew up in a very white suburb and the only other Latinx students around me were exclusively Mexican-American with two Peruvian-American families as the exception. So for me, I feel the need to expand our students’ view of Latin America beyond the traditional discussion points of Mexico and Puerto Rico. There are a number of varying countries, cultures, languages, and ethnicities that can be left out of the Latin American spaces, not to mention white spaces. I make a conscious effort to recognize, celebrate and inform others of the world beyond the most prominent aspect of Latin America in the United States.
JS: How do you incorporate your culture and/or your student’s cultures into the curriculum? If you haven’t yet, do you have thoughts on how you would like to do this in the future?
NS: With teaching World History, students are allowed a wide range of possibilities when addressing questions ranging from Religion, Government, Human Rights, Science & Math, and Art. Due to this flexibility built into the course, students are allowed to truly engage with the historical past on their own terms, leveraging their background knowledge and personal interests to address a wide range of questions, prompts, and historical texts.
JS: Why do you think representation matters, especially for our students of color at Speer?
NS: I believe that representation matters because while not all of the Latino teachers are people of color neither are our students. Having the diverse range of Latinx teachers in the building helps our students initially begin to wrestle with topics of ethnicity, color, and race that have been a specter within Latin America since 1492.
JS: How does it make you feel knowing that you are one of a handful of Latinx teachers at Speer?
NS: I was personally surprised by how many Latinx teachers we had to begin with and how many more have been hired since me. I never had any Latinx teachers in my education program so having Latinx teachers to collaborate with such as Lisette Hernandez, Ricardo Lozada, and Nicole Cancel has been very nice.
JS: How do you think we can continue to increase our Latinx representation at Speer?
NS: When hiring we should continue to ask for input from current teachers about potential new hires and make a focused effort to elevate Latinx and voices of color.
JS: Can you share an experience that has impacted you as a teacher of color?
NS: I am white so I don’t identify as a teacher of color. I would say that due to my whiteness I have personally had to wrestle with the concept of ‘What does it mean to be white and Latinx?’ What privileges am I afforded that others from a similar background may not be? Due to my own self-reflection, I feel much more able to bridge that conversation with our students who are white and Latinx.
cJS: Is there a tradition or artifact you would like to share from your culture? (music, food, clothes, art, etc.)
NS: Mate y Bombilla.
Description: Mate y Bombilla is a tea-infused drink, which consists of yerba mate leaves mixed with hot water and is served in a gourd cup with a metal straw called a bombilla that contains a small filter at the bottom to keep the tea leaves out. This is a common drink for people living along the Rio Plata for 1000s of years. Usually carrying the tea and hot water in a thermos.
Watch this video to learn about Mate y Bombilla and how to make it!
Written by Jocelin Sanabria, ITW Speer Academy
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