Question and Answer Interview with Norma Puente, senior in Margaret Ling Wisdom high school in Houston, Texas
Q: Tell me about the demographics of your school.
A: Latino community school, low income, high income, our school has done food distributors throughout the week. We communicate through twitter, Instagram, we have also been doing chrome distributions
Q: What has your school been doing to deal with COVID-19?
A: They are passing hotboxes for students without access to the internet. We also got a website with free access to internet
We have been sending emails and messaging other students about why they haven't logged into school
My teacher makes a whole period just for her classmates who need help and cant speak English
From -3 you can log into zoom calls and u speak and she translates but she only speaks English. She still tries to communicate and help them understand the assignment. Use a reminder to text her at whatever time and she tells us how to do it.
Q: How have the students been helping each other out?
A: We have lots of students who don't speak English so we translate to them if they have question we text them what happened in class
We use stuff like hangouts to communicate with them as well
It was easier to contact in physically in school
Our main faculty members do not speak Spanish usually the main ones only speak English. It is hard through the computer as you can imagine it is harder outside of class. We help them inside of class . they write their homework in English. They type in Spanish and it translates into English. They also use dictionaries. My school is divided into three different parts. We have ESL teachers and we also have to keep in mind they don't speak Spanish so they teach us our students and it is already complicated because classes are so big and most of them don't speak English. If they don't help each other there are other students helping them out.
Friends help students translate to teachers and that is how they communicate. We don't have teachers that can translate for them.
Q: What are some unique challenges to the community and how the school combats it?
A: Our communities are so low-income, every Friday we had food distributions on Fridays. They have school supplies distributions too
To combat this, the school offers donations for Christmas, canned goods too . everything is from student money.
We have strict times from where we can go to get food and each week it may change
Our school gives metro card to students who need them and most people go to school on metro
We don't pay for lunch. Doesn't matter how much they make, everyone gets lunch free and breakfast and dinner for free. Mostly for students.
Q: How have relationships with students and teachers changed from before being a community school to now?
A: When I first started going there everything was so small but as things started going on it got better
Examples…: they give out winter clothing for students who need it
We didn't have free lunch beforehand it depended on your income
We get a lot of different help now
People from around the neighborhood can benefit from it too
People without relation to the school can benefit too
We work more closely now and teachers care more about their students now bc they take time out to stay after school
Q: How are students responding to this?
A: At first many of my friends were all upset about online school. It was difficult to figure out how to navigate it online.
We are now using an app to turn in assignments and join classes
They should've explained how everything worked
At first everything was difficult bc everything was new and I don't like technology a lot so it was challenging to use teams because I had to use my computer so at first it was challenging but after awhile I got a hang of it and now I help other classmates
It is difficult for my friends who have everything in Spanish and we have everything in English into everything sounds the same. The words are different. I screen record through my phone can they go through it and then we facetime. I take a video of my screen and I sent that. Sometimes it is complicated. N not everything in Spanish is in English. Sometimes I change my settings into Spanish. Some words are so long and they mean things different.
Sometimes we don't understand our teachers' accents because they are different, and we have accents. There are students who have gotten so much better in four years here at English and they knew nothing freshman year.
Q: Are there any ways this is uniquely impacting you?
A: We haven't been hit that hard and my older sis and dad are still working but we can't do anything about it. Eventually better days will come. The only thing impacting us is mentally and emotionally because we are missing out prom and graduation. School was my second home, I love school. We just have been helping each other out, it's just a little phase and things r gonna go back to normal. We hope for the best.
Q: Do you have any positive anecdotes from this time period?
A: We have more food distributions throughout this week because before it was weekly and now it is everyday so that has become something bigger. People are really just saving more money because they give us things that can't be there. They give food that can stay at least two weeks. They give hotspots to literally anyone.