A group of Freedom High School Students, lead by teacher
Jennifer Cierech, recently met author, professor, and inspiration, Javier Ávila at Northampton Community College.
Javier Ávila’s distinguished career began in the Caribbean, where he taught English at the University of Puerto Rico for eight years. He moved to Pennsylvania and became a beloved educator at Northampton Community College. His extraordinary work with students earned him the 2015 Pennsylvania Professor of the Year Award sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
In addition to his accomplishments in academia, Ávila is a renowned poet and novelist whose literary excellence propelled him to international recognition. His bestselling novel Different became an award-winning motion picture entitled Mientes. He frequently visits colleges to discuss his work and to motivate students. Audiences praise Ávila’s recent work for being a powerful voice for Latinos in the U.S.
Ávila’s show, the Trouble with my Name breaks barriers and embraces the diversity of a nation whose history is rich and colorful. The message transcends boundaries of race, ethnicity, and geography.
Cierech said she brought her a great group of Spanish 4 Honors and Future AP students to Ávila’s event at Community College and they came away from the experience excited.
“Ávila was outstanding and he told his story in the form of personal experiences through a slide show and poems he wrote,” Cierech said. “It was very inspiring, particularly for my Hispanic Students. He spoke of diversity, culture and stereotypes.”
On Thursday, November 20th, students from four BASD schools, Freemansburg Elementary; Northeast and Broughal middle schools; and Freedom High School, attended a field trip to Lehigh University to meet and hear poet, Nikki Giovanni.The students started their field trip with ice cream at The Cup on Lehigh’s Campus Square. Just by chance, the Bethlehem Farmers Market was in full swing with guest artist, Dave Fry, playing music outdoors in the square.
Christie Roysdon, Director of Library services at Lehigh University, arranged an educational hour at the beautiful Linderman Library. Librarians took students to different spaces in the library according to age, elementary, middle and high school, to read Giovanni’s poetry and learn about the political and historical circumstances of Giovanni’s life.
At 4 p.m., at Zoellner Arts Center Butz Lobby, Nikki Giovanni spoke to the students and answered questions. Two of our Freemansburg Elementary students opened for Giovanni by reciting two of her poems and saying why they liked those poems.
Ari’a Williams, 4th grader, read “Knoxville, Tennessee,” and Allen Grimes read “A Poem (for Langston Hughes).”
At 5 p.m., the students enjoyed a delicious box meal in the Goodman Lobby courtesy of Lehigh University.
The bus transportation for the field trip was paid for by a Pennsylvania Arts Council Project Stream grant for the Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem.
Teachers, Karen Buchanan at Freedom, Anne Sipos at Liberty, Sheri Majczan at Northeast and Dawn Bothwell at Broughal, all submitted poems from their students to the Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem.
One student from each of these classes was selected to read their poem at the Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem public reading event at the Rotunda on the evening of October 19th. Teachers attended to support their students.