Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Local Heroes: Rafael Guzman
I learned recently that a former colleague of mine Rafael Guzman passed away. He was only 48. He was a lower east side boy and a wonderful warm and loving teacher. He had a "Simple Gift." He usually had a class of 5th grade bilingual and English language learners. He would spend blocks of time explaining current events and history to his kids, something that is taboo these days. He believed in and was allowed to do project based learning by an old guard principal who believed in that approach. Those principals are ancient history now. Rafael also didn't take crap from anyone, he was a man, "un hombre," who also didn't play the suck up game to get extra per session pay or easier schedules. When he was able to get a transfer nearer to his home and wife and young kids in Staten Island, he took it. But I also believe he took because he saw clearly what was to happen under the new Puta Principal.
Two summers ago while I worked on developing ideas and materials for a learning fair that was to never be, I "field tested" some of it on his summer school class. It was a lot of fun. To show his appreciation Rafael bought me my first Guayabera shirt. I found some pictures of his class working on projects that summer and I made them into a slide show.