I've done some work with the Sunnyside, WA School District over the last couple of years and want to share a story of how one teacher had massive impact.

Sunnyside High School has over 1500 students. 80% of the students are Hispanic, many of them recent immigrants. For years, the school struggled with a chronic challenge: It was hard to connect with the parents of their students. The parents often worked several jobs and there were also some cultural/language reasons that the parents did not come to school for trainings or open house nights.

Here's what an educator named David Rodriguez did. He worked with his students to write a highly entertaining tele-novela type of play completely in Spanish. The play included many asides about what parents could do to help their student succeed and the play was performed entirely by students. The students also marketed the play directly to the parents.

In its third year, guess how many parents attended: Over 500! Parent night went from a few scattered rows to  a standing room only crowd.

One educator, with one idea, directed at a chronic challenge was able to get unimagined results. The good news is that David is not alone. As I've traveled speaking at over 1,000 schools, I"m always stunned by how much impact one empowered educator can have when they take initiative and proactively solve problems in partnership with others.


Do you know the school Suffern High School? its in new york. its a pretty small town and i know you probably get a lot of requests asking you to come to schools but i would be thrilled if you came to y school. I am going to be a freshman and im very nervous because i dont know that many people in my classes but i am determined to do well after reading your books. My favorite was beetles and angels! i really want to try injera! anyways thank you so much for taking the time to read this email and i know its a long shot but our school would be honored if you came. thank you, ayeesha kakkar

Your blog about how teacher David Rodriguez worked with students to inspire the community at Sunnyside School District really knocks me out. I work in a Southeastern PA middle school with a significant Mexican immigrant population, and I'm always looking for ways to encourage and inspire. Do you think I could correspond with David? Where can I read this awesome play? Thanks for sharing this and other stories that open minds and hearts, keep up the good work, my friend!

Ayeesha - I appreciate your kind words and wish you the best at your school. I do not know your school - if your principal wants me to present, he has to email info@mawispeaks.com . Keep doing your best one day at a time, Ayeesha, and you will find yourself accomplishing things you never thought possible.

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