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COMIC: Pueblo Tribal Teacher On The Difficulty Of Getting Students Online

"When the pandemic first hit, we had about 25% Internet connectivity. The infrastructure was in its beginning stages." Lori Chavez, middle school social studies teacher, Kewa Pueblo, N.M.

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: Educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one teacher's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Episode 2

Lori Chavez, a middle school social studies teacher in Kewa Pueblo, N.M., discusses the importance of staying connected to your community during lockdown.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

My school is within Bernalillo Public Schools; however, we are a uniquely 100% tribally enrolled school. We are tightknit.
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It was stressful for our students not to have Internet connectivity when other students in our district — in nontribal communities — did. We were hand-delivering paper packets to our students each week.
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Over the summer, it was a mad dash to get everyone connected. We had to train our elder members how to work a computer! One elder grandma, when seeing the Internet for the first time, said:  "I swear it's like some sort of sorcery!
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Through grants, fundraising and our own "geek squad," we were able to get about 80% of homes connected by the end of August, which means our students are now all virtual. This was really a huge feat. I never thought it would happen in 10 years!
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Most of us live in multigeneration homes, so I see Papi walking across the background to get coffee or little siblings on laps. ... I am really teaching the whole family.
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But many of my students are not on camera. There is some stigma in our community about what it means to your energy when you are on camera.
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Mentally, I feel like I can overcome anything now. But emotionally, it has been really hard. Our tribal communities have been impacted really hard. We have lost so many influential elders.
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I created "Feeling Fridays" for our students to come together and share through poems, songs and art what they need to express to remember those we've lost.
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Our school is on our ancestral land, and those souls remain here. We want to honor our people always and tell stories of who they were so no one forgets.
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