RMS homework assignment: find what ails the world and heal it
If you remember school homework as a burden and a bother, imagine how 8th graders at Ruidoso Middle School felt when they got this assignment: “Learn all you can about one of the community’s toughest problems and try to figure out how to fix it.”
The kids may have been intimidated at first, but they got down to work starting last fall on an ambitious set of reports, complete with PowerPoint slides, that they completed and presented last week at New Mexico State University and ENMU Ruidoso.
The young RMS social engineers are participants in the school’s ENLACE program, an enriched language arts class for students identified as potential strong academic achievers if only they can overcome their doubts about whether school really matters.
RMS principal Anna Addis was drawn to ENLACE in part because it reinforces her desire to impress upon all RMS students, not just ENLACE participants, their role as citizens and the importance of contributing not just to their school but to the wider community.
“It’s a call to action for our kids,” Addis said last Friday. “We want them to realize that they can effect change.”
The ENLACE students heard the call, and in selecting their targets for study they did not just go for the low-hanging fruit. Here are some of the challenges they took on.
- Drug abuse
- Poverty in Lincoln County
- Preserving Mescalero language and culture
- Domestic abuse and homelessness
- Depression and mental illness
- Poor body image
- Immigrant students and the state’s Dream Act
There are two ENLACE classes. Language arts teacher Rosanna Lomeli has 16 students in hers, and Maxine Anchondo has 11. The classes divided into teams of three or four to select their topics, do the research and prepare reports.
The students trolled the Internet for information and articles on their subject. They also surveyed their classmates and teachers, visited local clinics and agencies and sought out interviews with people who could share knowledge and experience.
It wasn’t always easy to find people willing to talk.
Bianca Garcia, Maria Gallegos and Ashley Cardenas took on the topic of domestic abuse and wanted to speak directly with residents at The Nest, a shelter for women and children who have experienced or witnessed verbal or physical abuse at home.
“They didn’t want to talk about it, because of the trauma,” Garcia said. There were also privacy concerns, Nest staffers explained. But the shelter did send information for the team to add to its research.
Somewhat thwarted in their effort to seek solutions to the abuse problem, Garcia and her teammates decided they could be a solution themselves. They organized a drive at RMS to collect clothing, shoes, backpacks, toiletries and other necessities to donate to The Nest and the High Mountain Youth Project.
HMYP is working to create a center for high school students who lack safe and stable homes and couch surf with friends, or stay in cars or tents.
“We didn’t really have a solution,” Garcia said. “We just decided to help.”
“These three girls are amazing,” Lomeli said. “They actually took the action part of the solution.”
ENLACE is overseen in the region by NMSU professor Christopher Adams, who chaired a faculty review session last week in which ENLACE teams from several communities made their presentations and fielded questions and suggestions.
“I don’t want to brag,” Lomeli said. “But Mr. Adams was extremely impressed with our middle schoolers. They were shy at first, but they realized they could do it.”
Tomlin, D. (2017, March 13). RMS homework assignment: find what ails the world and heal it. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://www.ruidosonews.com/story/news/education/2017/03/13/rms-homework-assignment-find-what-ails-world-and-heal/99124714/