Middle School CTI Curriculum on Immigration and Climate Change

2021 CTI Fellow and Steering Committee member, Mariella Fernandes (English Language Learners Teacher at Whitewater Middle School), is currently in the 2021 CTI Seminar, “Climate Refugee Stories”, led by Tina Shull, Ph.D., of UNC Charlotte. Mariella is writing original curricula about the intersection of her students’ journeys to the United States, the role of climate change in our lives, and making their school feel like home. Read Mariella’s rationale for creating this unit found below.

“My reasons for creating this unit are also personal. Almost every other month in my school, for the past ten years, I have received newcomers, especially those coming from Central America. All of them arrive in a variety of circumstances, and all of them have a story to tell. The reasons and the journeys they took to be here are unimaginable, sometimes they sound like movie scenes, but they are not, they are true stories that have shaped their lives forever. The experiences these children have had to save their own lives could be enough material to write many books. In this unit as a CMS teacher, English Language Learners Chair, and especially as a mother, and immigrant myself, I believe my children deserve an opportunity to share their stories and feel welcome and useful in this new place. The new country should be a refuge for the students. Not all those stories can stay only in their memories and hearts. Others need to understand why these children have the sudden need to leave everything behind and embark on an uncertain journey that would put their lives at risk, would make them experience horrible moments, meet good and bad people, but somehow all that suffering would be better than staying home. However, no human being receives without giving. With my project “It’s not my trash, but it’s my school”, I want to motivate newcomers to make a significant contribution to the schools and communities that welcomed them, to help and maintain a clean environment, free of trash. I want them to understand that we can all help our planet and contribute to solutions towards climate change.” — Mariella Fernandes, Whitewater Middle School