A Lesson in History

The start of a new presidency has provided instructors with a teaching moment. But some teachers at Burbank Middle School on the north side are still amazed about the Inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Teachers and students spent their morning in the auditorium to witness an event that reading instructor Monica Buckhalter found amazing.

“Wow, I would have never thought in my lifetime that I would see something like this because of the way that I was raised, that it was unacceptable. It was something that was so far fetched that it was something that would not occur right now. It was something that could maybe happen in their future, maybe during their adulthood. So this is definitely a wow position. I’m still overwhelmed. I’m still excited and as giddy as the children are.”

English teacher Stephanie Spencer says she had to eat her words about what happened.

“I remember having a student and, it was an African-American student, and I really remember telling him, I think you can be whatever you want to be, but I don’t really think that that’s going to be in your grasp in our lifetime. And I’ve seen that student   since then. He’s in high school now, and I’ve apologized because I really never thought it would happen. Maybe a woman, maybe a Hispanic president, but I didn’t think we’d have an African-American president you know, in my lifetime.”

8th grader Richard Chapman says the election served as an equalizer for his parents.

“I think my dad voted for McCain and my momma voted for Obama.”

Hernandez: “It’s nice to have a mixture in the house, heh?”

Chapman: “Yeah, couple of good arguments.”

Hernandez: “Do you think that the time was right for for us to have this change?”

Chapman: “Uh, yes. With the economy and stuff the way it was, I think it was a good change, because I heard that he’s gonna try and maker some more jobs for the people.”

Angelica Valdez is in the 7th grade at Burbank.

“I feel very good that I’m being part of the generation that’s learning about this, because it’s the first African-American president.”

Monica Buckhalter says they have a responsibility as teachers to encourage their students to learn by asking as many questions as they can.

“That’s why I do my impacting in the classroom and I try to do my best to be pro-active, not reactive and the best that I can be. When they see me make a mistake, I apologize for it because that’s what adults should do. They should model to these children, all characteristic values. I don’t believe that I can teach it based on a lesson. I believe in my heart that I can teach it based on my actions, because my actions are a reflection of my values.”

image of Burbank Middle School banner

7th grader Gabriel Escobedo says he has a lot of respect for the man and what he has accomplished so far.

“I’m honored to be part of the history of the first black being elected.”

Hernandez: “Does President Barack Obama give you inspiration that maybe you can do anything you want?”

Escobedo: “Yes, if you put your goals first, you can accomplish anything.”

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.