Bowie teachers climbed aboard school buses on their first day back on duty Monday morning for a tour of the Segundo Barrio designed to give them a glimpse into their students’ lives and provide opportunities for discussions on their daily challenges in attending and excelling in school.
Robert Padilla, a Bowie associate administrator and graduate, led the tour with his own personal stories and history of the area.
“Part of the reason Mr. Ordaz, our principal, put me in charge is because I grew up here,” said Padilla, who has given similar tour in years past. “We want to give teachers an idea of what some of the kids experience on a daily basis and the different living areas our students dwell in.”
While giving his peers a better understanding of the students’ roots, Padilla also touched on the pride of the Oso, Oso, Osos.
“Bowie High is closing in on 100 years,” Padilla said. “The area has gone through a lot of changes. But no matter what happens or what changes, the school remains a vital center for the community. Everyone who has ties to the school, they remember those ties. Even if you are not directly from Bowie, you might have ties if you go back.”
Stops on the tour included Armijo Park/Boys and Girls Club, a hub for activities for the neighborhood kids. The buses drove by Sacred Heart Church and made a stop at Del Barrio Park, a frequent hangout for neighborhood kids.
Padilla illustrated the stark contrast between the newer and older public housing units and how some are more fortunate to live in the more modern facilities the city recently built.
The tour ended across the street from Bowie at the historic Chamizal National Park, where veteran teachers continued to share their stories about the plight of their students.
“The message is for the teachers to have open communication with the kids,” said Cesar Padilla, Robert Padilla’s brother and a Bowie social studies teacher. “There’s 100 different stories out there. Taking that extra time to get to know kids will go a long way.”
Veteran teachers asked their peers – especially those new to Bowie – to have empathy but continue to hold students to a high standard. They also encouraged teachers to build on the Oso pride by supporting their student athletes at their games – an important ask when many don’t have family in the stands to cheer them on.
“The tour helped me learn about our students’ upbringing,” said Kayla Melson, journalism teacher. “We could see where they come from so, we can tailor our content to help them help themselves in a way.”
For science teacher Georgia Odom, it gave a perspective she wouldn’t be able to get from the classroom.
“It’s helping to build that bigger picture for me,” Odom said. “The tour reminds us as teachers of the hardship students face. It helps me to be more empathic and lenient but more prepared.”