Hannah Cho, TGS Class of 2015, comments on my curriculum design for a mixed-ability classroom of international students.
There are two units during my second semester in 10th grade in Mr. Martino's Global Studies class that are particularly memorable. The first was not really a unit, but rather a flexible and necessary change in curriculum towards focusing on current politics so as not to ignore the events going on outside our very classroom and in the homes of our own classmates. We addressed the Boston Bombing, tracing the American War on Terror back to 9/11 and grasping an understanding of how 9/11 has had consequences on every kind of American, from the firefighter to the Muslim to any man who walks through an airport with dark skin or a turban on his head. We looked at the case of terrorist acts and its socio-political consequences sympathetically and analytically from every perspective possible. We also looked at North Korea's political and human rights situation. This was immensely important to me, as an advocate for North Korean human rights and awareness on the country's humanitarian issues. We watched documentaries, read articles, wrote responses. It meant an incredible amount to me to be given the autonomy and respect by my teacher and my students to speak to them on what I saw, knew and felt of this issue, as it affects me as a Korean. We were in tune with the world; our learning felt relevant.
The second unit is called "Doers and Fighters." We were given the independence to choose an area of interest, explore it in depth academically and then create passionately. I chose to investigate Betty Friedan's essential writing "Feminine Mystique" and the Second Wave of Feminism, then creating an interactive blog post and a slam poem which I performed to the class. I was awed by my peers' projects, Ale's watercolors, Samhaoir's slam poem, Gawa's poetry iBook. They were all incredible, independent works of curiosity and a commendable balance between theoretical ideas and real-life movements, academia and art, freedom and direction.
Caitlin Price, a straight A student who had a passion for learning, expressed her gratitude to me by saying:
It has truly been an honor having you as a teacher this year; what you have taught me has gone so far outside the scope of the classroom. You have shown me what it means to be a genuinely good person; how to care about others and bring joy to everyone you meet; how to think of my place and purpose in this world on a global scale instead of just in my tiny reality. You have taught me that no one is perfect and it is okay to have faults and openly admit them; that community and international service is incredibly important; that even the smallest gestures can mean the world; and to live inspired is really the only way to live. You have expanded my horizons to things I would have never known’ so many that if I tried listing them here I wouldn’t be able to seal the envelope. I have come to comprehend the millions of people who are crying out for and completely deserving of help all around the world; whose lives are products of thirst for power, greed, and evil, yet who in the face of tragedy and destruction are able to smile and be thankful for their lives. Because of you, I have seen the smiles and heard the voices of some of the most beautiful souls this planet has to offer, and because of you, I know that anyone at any age with any means can make a real difference in this world. And I’m not going to let you down - none of your students are.”
Stacey Burke, a student who left Mountain View her senior year for personal reasons wrote:
I will truly miss going to your class. When you lecture you always speak so passionately, whether it’s about a “Do Now,” an injustice somewhere in the world, or anthropology. I can honestly say your class is unlike any other class I’ve taken (I mean it in a good way). Our world is in dire need of more teachers like you... In addition to being my teacher, I regard you as one of my role models. You’ve made me reconsider the way I live my life and my personal philosophy. When I was suffering from a low your class could often reel me back in. Everyone should aspire to be as empathetic and as altruistic as you.
Bill and Carla Astrab, parents of Sarah Astrab a 2010 trip member and MVHS graduate wrote:
So often we think of learning and school as a building where there are rules, books, tests and schedules. While that may be an important part of the education process, there is much to be gained outside of the classroom and computer environments. Sarah “lived” a week of learning by traveling to Honduras and being submerged into the work routines and culture... This enlightening and motivating experience would not have been possible without the efforts of Mr. Nick Martino... There are teachers that instruct, and there are teachers that make a life-long impression on students. Mr. Martino... ha[s] definitely made a life-long impression with our family.