Familia Spotlight: Douglas Ward
Teacher at Casa Esperanza, Brownsville
I began teaching at Casa Esperanza in Brownsville six months ago, after recently earning my Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Before I started working at Southwest Key, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I have always enjoyed working with adolescents and I knew this was an opportunity to make a difference. I realized I’d be working with minors who had come from violent areas, experienced trauma and endured difficult journeys. What I didn’t expect to see is the humility, respect and determination that each of these youth possess in spite of those hardships.
For a teacher, there is no better feeling than being around people who genuinely want to learn. These young people are very hungry for knowledge. To build a bond with them, I start by working to see things from their perspective. We talk about their history and path to this country, and what they want to do when reunited with a family member or loved one. Having someone hear their stories helps them feel valued as human beings.
We cover all the basics during each school day—reading, math, social studies, science, history and English. One of the lesson plans I recently developed in an American History class focused on migration. Through it, we talk about the many reasons for migration – in human populations, as well as in the animal kingdom.
Not surprisingly, some of the forces causing migration can be very similar across the spectrum. These include shortages of food and water, uninhabitable environments and threats to safety and survival. Through the course of this study, I help
the students make a real-world connection to their own lives and demonstrate how many of their journeys are a type of migration based on their circumstances. These lessons help instill in the students a sense of courage and determination
that helps them continue on an often difficult path.