When Angie Lucero arrives at Tomasita Elementary each Monday, two once-shy first graders greet her, eager to share details about the past week’s activities, read together, and get help writing in their journals. Lucero, ...
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When Angie Lucero arrives at Tomasita Elementary each Monday, two once-shy first graders greet her, eager to share details about the past week’s activities, read together, and get help writing in their journals. Lucero, a retired teacher with 36 years of experience, is a stable source of one-on-one attention for these girls, in a school struggling to provide everything its students need.
“I’m not there to do their work for them, but I’m there to guide and give direction,” says Lucero. “The students think, this person likes me,
they pay attention to what I like-even as an adult we want that.”
Lucero tutors once a week at Tomasita, a small K-5 school in eastern Albuquerque, New Mexico, that faces significant challenges in raising
student achievement. A majority of the students at Tomasita-78 percent-qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch and a quarter of the students
are English language learners. “Extra help in the classroom is especially important now with all of the budget cuts,” notes Lucero.
“There are more kids in classrooms now, and they need so much individual help.”
Lucero volunteers through Oasis, an organization that provides classes, health programs, and volunteer opportunities for adults over 50. She is
trained to provide struggling first-graders specialized literacy instruction, but she often provides emotional support, as well.
“Sometimes we just talk. I’m bilingual, and I go in and talk with some of the kids in Spanish and English, sometimes just about what’s going on
at home,” she says. “When I used to teach, I saw that just having someone to talk to was important.”
Lucero is one of many retired teachers who have chosen to return to a high-needs classroom, using her experience and passion to help students
succeed in academics and beyond. Around the country, union-led collaborations are engaging both retired and current educators and are
partnering with parents, communities, and businesses to positively transform struggling schools as part of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign.
Whether providing extra one-on-one attention for a student or mentoring a new teacher in a priority school, retired teachers are an essential
element of these partnerships.
“NEA-Retired educators continue to lead the way on critical issues, as evidenced by their invaluable efforts to transform Priority Schools,”
says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The energy, enthusiasm, and experience that retired educators bring is integral to our work-they are
making a real difference in our most challenged schools.”
Angie Lucero’s work was showcased on the NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign website:
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