The following is Katy Ramón’s elaborated speech for the WritingisThinking.org Leadership Lab hosted by Teach to Lead, the US Department of Education, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards on Friday, June 26th, 2015.
“The human condition is the heart of it all.” -Juan Felipé Herrera
Recently, Juan Felipé Herrera was nominated to be the first Latino U.S. Poet Laureate. My heart burst when I read this news. Juan Felipé Herrera is the embodiment of the vision I have for my students. Mr. Herrera’s story is a humble beginning, much like many of my students. He learned to wield power tools: a pencil and piece of paper. And from that, he became a master of poetry, the U.S. Poet Laureate. I want this for my students. It is with this inspiration that I wrote this poem.
Part One Students Put at a disadvantage Not disadvantaged Starving to make a change Educators Teach the power tools Make that difference Tiana She has a way to make money Before school she goes to Stop and Shop Self serve check out bays In the shadows standing shyly Fidgeting, gazing away They always forget their change Run after them, try to give it back Well thank you! But keep it child Pedro Baseball air inflates his lungs Heart beat base hits Boy from the projects The team is too expensive Internet and a computer at home? Pfft, jokes Students Put at a disadvantage Not disadvantaged Starving to make a change Educators Teach the power tools Make that difference Part Two Me I’m a numbers girl Proudly taking after grandpa Dallas Known for hiring two accountants Even though he’d do the math himself He didn’t make mistakes, but he sure found theirs Writing wasn’t my thing, not at all They asked me, so what’s your point? In college, hours at the writing center They thought I didn’t know what I was talking about Because they couldn’t look at the calculations And just understand I knew math Couldn't write Nobody listened My sister Her writing a fine calligraphy pen Everybody remarks on her brilliant intellect She knows nothing of factoring trinomials Or analyzing correlation with a best fit line But when she writes about math Everyone nods, agrees As if Truth had finally arrived She didn't know math But she could write So people listened Write well to get your point across Respected, educated opinion Be a part of the decision-making process The conversation Justice Write well for a clear math mind Deepened, nuanced understanding Break through the shallow ice Enter the expansive depth Of knowledge Students Put at a disadvantage Not disadvantaged Starving to make a change Educators Teach the power tools Make that difference