By Seth Daniel
Two Beachmont teachers will spend several weeks traveling through Morocco this summer in order to learn more about the culture of a rapidly growing demographic of students in their school.
Irene Cassidy and Chelsey Pollack, English Language Learner (ELL) teachers at the Beachmont, will spend three weeks in Morocco this summer thanks to a grant program that is funding their travel and their experiences there. The grant program, called the Fund for Teachers, approved their request recently, and the two said they would be there in late July and early August.
“It’s definitely a growing population in Beachmont, Revere and all over Massachusetts,” said Cassidy. “We just really don’t know enough about that population of kids and what it’s like where they come from.”
Pollack said being an ELL teacher requires not only knowing how to teach English to kids that have just arrived from a foreign country, but also it means being culturally literate too.
“We are just really trying to find out more about a growing group of students here at the Beachmont,” she said. “About 20 percent of our students at Beachmont have links or have come from Morocco…We want a deeper understanding about the place and people and more than just the language, the flag and the food.”
Beachmont Principal Percy Napier said he applauded the teachers for applying for the grant and being willing to go above and beyond to understand their students.
“Students and families originating from Morocco are becoming an increasingly large part of our school population, but we don’t often have a lot of information about Moroccan culture and Islam,” he said. “The experiences this trip will provide our teachers will provide a great deal of insight into our students’ culture and will in turn help us to develop a more comprehensive understanding of where they come, their traditions, and the factors that shape our families’ worldview. This helps us to be better teachers and a more inclusive welcoming community. We are so proud of our teachers for going so far above and beyond to bring this knowledge back to us.”
Already, Pollock and Cassidy said they have reached out to parents from Morocco and have learned that many will be in that country during their trip. They said they hope to be able to visit some of their students and families while on the trip.
And when they return, they said they plan to put together a presentation to help teachers in Beachmont, and perhaps around the district, gain a better understanding of the culture and place.