Eastern Elementary School teacher Keith McCray was never taught Spanish or Hispanic cultures when he was in class. But today, his students are exposed to it all.
“I saw the fortress of Juan Ponce de Leon…and it was really cool, because the king actually named him the first governor of Puerto Rico,” Maggie, a fifth grader at Eastern Elementary School said.
Maggie saw it with her own eyes, despite never leaving the classroom.
“These kids actually put the goggles on to their face, and they’re emerged into that culture,” McCray said.
And it doesn’t stop there.
By using virtual reality headsets and phone apps, kids take a step back in time when Spanish explorers first came to this side of the world, helping students to understand and embrace cultures different from their own.
“Some of my friends are Spanish. They say things that I don’t really know, so I just want to how to speak their language,” Elijah said.
“Through that research, we are incorporating other cultures, such as Hispanic cultures, into what they are researching and what they are finding, and how it is influenced our country today,” McCray said.
McCray said that through these classes, students are able to learn how various cultures have influenced what our country is today, preparing students for their own world exploration at the same time.
“If I move to, say, Mexico, and I want to learn Spanish, like I am…so it could be easier,” Juwel, a fifth grader at Eastern Elementary School said.
As McCray teaches these lessons, he hopes his fifth graders take home this key message.
“That we are all more alike than we are different,” McCray said.
So they are more confident when they step out of the classroom and into Hispanic countries.