By Scott Beck y John Newton
La Voz Latina
The children of migrant farmworkers have passed through the schools of the Vidalia Onion region of south Georgia for nearly two generations, but rarely have they had the opportunity to tell about their own lives. However, this summer a program in Metter helped a number of migrant children document their lives in a way that can be shared with their families, classmates, and teachers.
A dozen rising 5th-to-7th-grade children were part of a unique three-week enrichment program designed and implemented, pro bono, by Drs. Alma Stevenson and Scott Beck of Georgia Southern University. The project sought to improve the children’s reading and writing skills while also providing a chance for them to have their own stories professionally published.
Throughout the program, Ms. Ros Ferrell, an educator in the Candler County Schools, collaborated in the instruction of the students. “Ros was dedicated to and engaged and interested in making this program a success,” said Dr. Stevenson.
“Soon after we were invited to create a summer program for migrant children, we decided to focus upon reading and writing using storybooks about migrants,” Dr. Beck said “because we both have done research on the kinds of literature that appeals to young readers, and we know that kids like to read stories that connect with their own lives.”
Dr. Stevenson, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, said that during the first half of the program the students read existing picture books about the lives of migrant children and were asked to evaluate them.
“They looked at 4 or 5 books each day and were asked to pick their favorite,” she said. “They would then write about why they liked a particular book by connecting it with memories from their own lives.”
Their favorite books included Amelia’s Road by L.J. Altman, Oranges by Z. Rogow, La Mariposa by F. Jimenez, and The Adventures of Connie and Diego by M. Garcia.
“Through this process, three primary themes emerged,” Dr. Beck said. “The students…