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My name is Marcus Fontain, J.D., for some time I have been observing through the experience of my own children whom already graduated with Bachelor’s Degrees that teachers in America are really struggling with no hope in sight.  To make matters more pressing is the fact that my wife and I now have a one-year old baby boy and the idea that he will go to school to be educated by a frustrated teacher that is underpaid and not well respected is frightening. In the United States there is no one more underpaid and more overworked than a Teacher.

It is shameful that we are one of the wealthiest countries on the planet and we do not pay our teachers enough money so they can have breathing space. We need to stand-up to Congress and demand that our teachers receive a better salary than the misery they now receive. Many teachers I know live below the poverty level and what keeps them teaching is their undying dedication to teach our children. It is about time we pay our teachers lucrative salaries; by doing so they will dedicate even more quality time to our children and we will have less crime on the streets and less inmates in the prison system as well as more successful sons and daughters. It all begins with the teachers. In America today a teacher is practically a second class citizen and in many cases they are used and abused and discarded like trash. We must change all of that.  Her is why:

Teachers are an extremely important facet of any society for a number of reasons and their role in society is both significant and valuable. Teachers are the people who educate the youth of society who in turn become the leaders of the next generation of people.

Teachers are the people who are teaching children and imparting knowledge upon them in their most impressionable years. What children learn from their teachers at a young age will most likely stay with them in some facet for the rest of their lives Teachers play an extraordinary part in the lives of children for the formative years of their development and the importance of teachers is something that cannot be understated. They involve themselves in molding their students into responsible citizens of their country.

Within a school, if teachers are well educated, financially secured and if they are intellectually alive, they will take keen interest in their job, then only success is ensured. Our teachers ensure that children are taught to high standards and only receive quality education which will lead to a brighter future for these children. Teachers training needs must also be up to date.

Teachers are Role Models. A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth. We look to them for advice and guidance.

A role model can be anybody: a parent, a sibling, a friend but some of our most influential and life-changing role models are in fact the teachers. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Teachers follow students through each pivotal stage of development. At six to eight hours a day, five days a week, a teacher is poised to become one of the most influential people of the students’ life. After their parents, children will first learn from you, their elementary school teacher. Then, as a middle school teacher, you will guide students through yet another important transition: adolescence. As children become young adults, learning throughout middle school and into high school, you will answer their questions, listen to their problems and teach them about this new phase of their lives. You not only watch your students grow you help them grow.

We think of teacher-heroes that taught us the academics but we don’t often think of those teachers that taught us life’s lessons. Much of what students learn from their greatest teachers is not detailed on a syllabus. Teachers who help us grow as people are responsible for imparting some of life’s most important lessons. During their initial school years, students encounter, perhaps for the first time, other children of the same age and begin to form some of their first friendships. As a teacher, you will show your students how to become independent and form their own relationships, you will carefully guide them and intervene when necessary. School is as much a place of social learning as academic learning, and this is true, not only in our early years of education, but all the way through college. Though a teacher’s influence on the social sphere of school lessens as students mature, those early lessons still have an effect on how they will interact with others in the future.

Teachers are full of experience. They have already been where their students are going, undergone what they will go through and are in a position to pass along lessons, not only regarding subject matter, but lessons on life and play an extraordinary part in the lives of children for the formative years of their development. The importance of teachers is something that cannot be understated. Their influence can and will stretch on long after the final bell rings, beyond the walls of the actual school. The role of the teacher is complex, far beyond what people would assume as just someone who teaches what is mandated by law from the youth of America.

Life is its own education, with formal schooling playing only a small fraction. However, that does not undermine the roleof the teacher. Those who sit in the class room have a good bit of influence of shaping the minds of the future. There are many out there who instruct and lecture information in the classroom but very few people who actually teacher. Actually get through and shape the youth of today to be the pillars of society, to be all that they can be.

In many ways, there will be times where children will see their teachers a bit more than they might see their parents during most days. This is the case in the lower grades, where children are in school, seven, eight, and nine hours a day, with a single teacher at the lower grade levels. Needless to say,teachers will find themselves as a temporary third parent, being firm but fair. Patient but also unable to be able to back down. They need to run their class room through respect, but not through fear.

Teachers need to be someone that children respect enough to listen to and to not fear that they can go with, for their problems, should the situation come up. Also, teachers are mediators, able to hash out and make those who are having an argument have some kind of common ground. Anyone can really just punish the two parties and be done with it, but there will be no lessons that will be learned from that. If a teacher is able to figure out what has happened and help develop understanding, then the youth will be far better off.  The best teachers are far more than just reciting dry facts and assigning huge piles of homework. They are those who help shape the children to be the best that they can be and it takes a special person to do that.

By: Marcus Fontain, J.D.

President and CEO

Unimundo Corporation

www.unimundo.tv

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Cuba beyond the cliches - Festival of Books

By Denise Florez

"Moving Beyond the 'Cuba Cliche' and Getting to the Real Cuba" at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books repeats at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds will speak about Cuba with travel writer Catherine Watson. Look for Booth 47, also named the California Pavilion, on the corner of Trousdale Parkway and Downey Way at the festival at USC. The event is free.

For many Americans, Cuba is a mystery, a forbidden place that until now has been difficult to reach.

The small California Pavilion Stage at the Festival of Books on Saturday was packed with people eager to talk about Cuba now that President Obama has opened the door for us to peek in.

On Saturday, Times Assistant Managing Editor Alice Short, who recently visited Cuba, sat down with Catherine Watson, who has traveled to the island nation as a journalist several times since 1999.

Watson said she stopped going in 2003 because “it was just too sad to find so many bright, educated people who couldn’t get out.”

She has returned to Cuba since relations have been partially re-established. Obama in January eased rules for Americans who want to travel to Cuba, and last week removed the country from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

Short says she fulfilled her Cold War childhood dream to visit Cuba this winter and traveled on an educational tour, which is one way Americans can visit Cuba legally. (There are 12 accepted reasons that Americans may go to Cuba under U.S. regulations.)

Short said she wanted to make sure that she could visit before the first Starbucks arrived, and, once there, was told that it may not be as soon as people think. One of her guides said their banking and credit system is not what large American corporations are used to and wasn’t sure the government wants to see an influx of American companies.

"Havana has an historic preservation office that is the strongest anywhere in the world," Watson said. "You can’t repair your building, even if you own it, unless the office approves it. I think the Cubans, [who] fought the revolution and suffered all this time, they’re not going to get rid of everything.”

Cleve Ford, a travel consultant in the audience, said in the Q&A part of the panel that Cuba is changing rapidly. Ford also pointed out that the musical center of Cuba is in Santiago.

Watson said she always appreciated walking into the streets of Cuba and “walking into pools of music. Music is everywhere.”

Food, however, is a more "quiet" affair, Short said.

Traveling as a journalist, Watson has never gone to Cuba on a tour. She has, however, stayed in people’s homes, where the lack of spices and ingredients makes meals bland. The best dining experience she had on her last visit was in a Russian restaurant called Nostrovia, where Cuban Russian descendants prepare the food.

Both journalists mentioned how humbling it is to meet the people of Cuba and see how much they are able to do with so little. Watson said she never perceived any animosity from Cubans because she was an American. "They’re aware of us in a way that we are not aware of them."

Short also said she was mesmerized by the preserved architecture, although many streets are “torn up, but there is no trash.” She also visited organic farms that are connected to restaurants where the produce was better.

As far as the three cliches -- yes, rum, cigars and the cars -- are there but it’s really the people who will impress travelers.

Some things to know about traveling to Cuba: Credit cards are allowed but still not widely used, so carry cash. It may also help to know it is not the State Department that overseas regulations for travel to Cuba, but the Treasury Department.

Airbnb recently started listing home stays in Cuba for Americans who want to visit. And travel website CheaAir sells tickets online for those who want to go.

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Cuba beyond the cliches - Festival of Books

 

By Denise Florez

"Moving Beyond the 'Cuba Cliche' and Getting to the Real Cuba" at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books repeats at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds will speak about Cuba with travel writer Catherine Watson. Look for Booth 47, also named the California Pavilion, on the corner of Trousdale Parkway and Downey Way at the festival at USC. The event is free.

 

For many Americans, Cuba is a mystery, a forbidden place that until now has been difficult to reach. The small California Pavilion Stage at the Festival of Books on Saturday was packed with people eager to talk about Cuba now that President Obama has opened the door for us to peek in.

On Saturday, Times Assistant Managing Editor Alice Short, who recently visited Cuba, sat down with Catherine Watson, who has traveled to the island nation as a journalist several times since 1999.

Watson said she stopped going in 2003 because “it was just too sad to find so many bright, educated people who couldn’t get out.”

She has returned to Cuba since relations have been partially re-established. Obama in January eased rules for Americans who want to travel to Cuba, and last week removed the country from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.

Short says she fulfilled her Cold War childhood dream to visit Cuba this winter and traveled on an educational tour, which is one way Americans can visit Cuba legally. (There are 12 accepted reasons that Americans may go to Cuba under U.S. regulations.)

Short said she wanted to make sure that she could visit before the first Starbucks arrived, and, once there, was told that it may not be as soon as people think. One of her guides said their banking and credit system is not what large American corporations are used to and wasn’t sure the government wants to see an influx of American companies.

"Havana has an historic preservation office that is the strongest anywhere in the world," Watson said. "You can’t repair your building, even if you own it, unless the office approves it. I think the Cubans, [who] fought the revolution and suffered all this time, they’re not going to get rid of everything.”

 

Cleve Ford, a travel consultant in the audience, said in the Q&A part of the panel that Cuba is changing rapidly. Ford also pointed out that the musical center of Cuba is in Santiago.

 

Watson said she always appreciated walking into the streets of Cuba and “walking into pools of music. Music is everywhere.”

 

Food, however, is a more "quiet" affair, Short said.

 

Traveling as a journalist, Watson has never gone to Cuba on a tour. She has, however, stayed in people’s homes, where the lack of spices and ingredients makes meals bland. The best dining experience she had on her last visit was in a Russian restaurant called Nostrovia, where Cuban Russian descendants prepare the food.

 

Both journalists mentioned how humbling it is to meet the people of Cuba and see how much they are able to do with so little. Watson said she never perceived any animosity from Cubans because she was an American. "They’re aware of us in a way that we are not aware of them."

 

Short also said she was mesmerized by the preserved architecture, although many streets are “torn up, but there is no trash.” She also visited organic farms that are connected to restaurants where the produce was better.

 

As far as the three cliches -- yes, rum, cigars and the cars -- are there but it’s really the people who will impress travelers.

 

Some things to know about traveling to Cuba: Credit cards are allowed but still not widely used, so carry cash. It may also help to know it is not the State Department that overseas regulations for travel to Cuba, but the Treasury Department.

 

Airbnb recently started listing home stays in Cuba for Americans who want to visit. And travel website CheaAir sells tickets online for those who want to go.

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