A Day in the Life of a Mexican Teacher
Luis Reyes Garcia, Escuela La Salud

Early in the morning I walk through town, looking for a ride up the mountain to school. I don't have my own coche (car), so I get there whatever way I can. I get there by foot, on horseback, or most commonly, by rides from friends in town. Our school is a good 15 km from my front porch. I arrive a few minutes before the children and take attendance and note their punctuality, which are both recorded all throughout the year. On Mondays, after attendance, we sing the Mexican National Anthem, while marching into line by grade level, and then get to work.

The school day is divided into two groups: the first starting at 9:00 A.M for the younger students (ages 4 - 9) and by 2:00 PM for the older students (ages 9 - 11). We work on Spanish and math in the morning, until about 11:00. After this, the children all have recess, until noon when we resume classes again. From 12:00 P.M. until 1:30 the children spend time completing class projects or various assignments. These younger students leave in the afternoon when their assignments are done, and soon the third and fourth graders arrive ready to follow the same schedule.

Our school is a primary school of 175 alumnos (students), with an average of 30 students per classroom. It opens from about the third week of August through the first week of June. The students in the school are all of different ages, but most are between six and twelve years old. Math, Spanish, and ethics are mandatory for all students. In addition, the older levels work on science and history. Since I work with are all different ages and at different levels of learning, it's difficult for one person to keep them all busy!

Of all the subject areas taught at our school, I feel that Spanish is the most important for students to comprehend completely, not only because they'll need to be able leer y escribir (to read and to write) in Spanish in all classes, but also in "life" outside of school. Some of the students go to secondary schools in town at age 12, but quite a few go to work on their family farms, or marry as early as 13 and start families within their home village.

The part of my job that can be the most difficult is the challenge of working with students from all different living situations. The students and the school itself are not able to afford a lot of the materials needed for clases and that makes teaching more complicated. Alongside this, somethimes the students are often absent from class because their parents need help on el rancho (the farm or ranch). Therefore, they often fall behind and have trouble keeping up with their schoolwork. Even though it is stressful to have parents disagree with what a student's priorities are, or the way things are run at school, I really enjoy being with kids. This is a job that comes easily to me. A while ago, I was fortunate to have been working with an older teacher in another school where ultimately I was offered the head teaching position I have now. This is the type of work I have always felt comfortable with.



The monarchs reached the Mexican sanctaries in late October,
2000. Students at Escuela La Salud watched for them daily and
recorded the butterflies' arrival on this graph.